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'Disgusted' Alan Kelly denies leaking information from Irish dressing room

The goalkeeper coach has broken his silence as the fallout to a leak from the Irish dressing room intensifies.

Alan Kelly.
Alan Kelly.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Updated Nov 21st 2020, 6:16 PM

IRISH GOALKEEPER COACH Alan Kelly says he has never leaked dressing room information, and has hit out at what he sees as a “disgusting” media narrative around the reasons for his early departure from the recent international camp.

Information from the Irish dressing room appeared in the UK Daily Mail on Thursday, claiming players were upset at the political nature of a motivational video and pre-match team talk delivered by manager Stephen Kenny before last week’s defeat to England at Wembley. 

Goalkeeper coach Kelly left the camp the following Monday following a defeat to Wales.

In a statement released via the FAI that night, Kelly explained he declined to board the squad’s flight to Dublin for personal reasons as he suffers from asthma. 

In a personal statement on social media today, Kelly hit out at a supposed conflation of his exit from the camp with the leaking of information from the Irish dressing room. Kelly says he is “absolutely furious and disgusted” at the notion the stories are linked, and says “with 100% certainty” that he has never “bleated to the media in 35 years as a player and coach.”

“I recently made a difficult decision to put my health first & football second as I continued to work, travel, eat & sleep, in camp, with the Republic of Ireland national team during the recent International break”, reads the statement.

“Covid-19 was present in the camp & continuing to spread from person to person during this period. 

“I made the decision to ‘sit out’ the last match because the risk was becoming too high for me as an asthmatic. 

“I am now absolutely furious and disgusted with the narrative & innuendo being created in the media that this decision is somehow linked with stories leaked to the press out of OUR dressing room. 

“I can say with 100% certainty that I have never bleated to the media in 35 years as a player and coach & I’ve been in some pretty interesting dressing rooms. 

“This narrative is wholly and totally wrong & it should beg the question who is spreading & who is benefitting from this? What I can say is it’s not me. 

“I have been a loyal servant to Irish football for over 30 years and to now find my name & reputation being dragged through the mud is shameful. 

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“Enough is enough.”

Earlier today, James McClean criticised the leak in the Irish camp. McClean answered back to a newspaper report claiming he was among Irish players restless with recent issues in the Irish camp by posting on Instagram, “Didn’t want to public speak on the matter but this absolute gutter press…any issues within a camp should remain in a camp, nothing worse than a tout.” He concluded the post with a rat emoji.

The FAI are presently looking into a complaint from a member or members of the Irish camp regarding the material of Kenny’s pre-game presentation. It remains unclear who made a complaint to the FAI about what was said and/or shown in the dressing room, and indeed whether there was more than one complaint made. 

The42 understands the video was roughly three minutes long, and was a montage splicing previous Irish goals against England with scenes from Anglo-Irish history, including the Easter Rising.  

Outgoing FAI CEO Gary Owens is looking into the matter, and is speaking with a number of people involved to establish the facts of the situation. Owens spoke with Kenny yesterday, in what has been described as a “positive” meeting for the Irish boss, and there is no suggestion his job is in jeopardy. 

It’s understood Owens is seeking to speak with many more people involved, and will then decide whether the matter is worth referring to the full board. 

Asked about Kelly’s departure on Tuesday, Kenny said, “I think it was probably connected to the positive tests of Matt Doherty and James McClean. That was probably an influence. To try and look for something else is not right. He just spoke and gave an honest reason.” 

The FAI conducted an extra round of Covid tests prior to boarding the flight, and it returned positive cases for players James McClean and Matt Doherty. All other members on the flight were negative, and they all tested negative again in Dublin the following day.

Kelly made 34 appearances for Ireland between 1993 and 2002, and was the only member of the backroom staff appointed by Mick McCarthy to be retained by Stephen Kenny. 

First published today at 17.47 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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