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Kenny hits out at 'incomprehensible' booing of Irish players taking a knee ahead of Hungary game

The Hungarian players did not make the same gesture ahead of tonight’s game at a packed stadium in Budapest.

James McClean takes a knee as
James McClean takes a knee as
Image: PA

STEPHEN KENNY LABELLED the booing of the Irish fans taking a knee by Hungary fans tonight as “incomprehensible.” 

Tonight’s friendly game was played before a full house of 10,000 fans at the Ferenc Szusza Stadium in Budapest, and the crowd roundly booed the Irish players when they took a knee before kick off. The Hungarian players did not follow suit in taking a knee, and instead they remained standing and pointed to the ‘Uefa: Respect’ logo on their shirtsleeves. 

The booing of the anti-racism gesture in Budapest follows a similar reaction from England fans to their players’ taking a knee ahead of their pre-Euros friendlies this week. 

“I think it was the right decision I approached [International Operations Manager] Barry Gleeson saying it was something we wanted to do”, said Kenny. “I think it’s a very important message. The fact it was booed was incomprehensible, really.

“It must be damaging for Hungary, with the Euros in Hungary. It’s disappointing and it doesn’t reflect well on Hungary and the Hungarian support. Our players wanted to do it, it’s an important stance and I commend them for taking that stance.”

Irish striker Adam Idah could not conceal his disappointment, either. 

“Obviously it’s disappointing to see the fans in the whole stadium booing us taking the knee, it’s for a good cause, trying to stop racism, it’s a sign to kick racism out of society, just the reaction was very disappointing to be honest, we weren’t expecting that. We wanted to take the knee, trying to stop racism.” 

“Obviously three of the young black players are teenagers – Adam Idah, Gavin Bazunu and Andrew Omobamidele – and also Chiedozie Ogbene came on and was excellent when he came on”, continued Kenny when asked about their performances.

“They all performed brilliantly. Gavin was terrific in goal and Adam was outstanding int he second half, he caused havoc but unfortunately couldn’t score.

“They are well capable of speaking for themselves, they’re educated individuals, they’re very well capable of speaking for themselves but they’re a credit to the Ireland, to the Irish football team, they’re going to be a big part of the Irish football team and we’re very proud they’re part of our team.”

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The game itself finished goalless, with Kenny satisfied with the Irish performance. 

“It was a tough game, we knew that Hungary had won their Nations League group. We were aware they had qualified for the Euros, beating Iceland.

“This was a big game for them, going to the Euros, ground packed, so it was always going to be a difficult game. Our players were excellent overall, their commitment and sense of team was very evident. It wasn’t a perfect display. In the first half we weren’t as cohesive as I would have liked us to be but we defended really well and obviously John Egan had his header off the bar.

“In the second half, we were very much a threat on every counter-attack and Adam Idah was very, very dangerous in the second half, as were the other forwards, and we caused a lot of problems.” 

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Gavin Cooney

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