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Stephen Kenny.
Stephen Kenny.
Image: Kalle Parkkinen/INPHO

'It's hard to believe we didn't score' - Ireland didn't deserve Finland defeat, says Kenny

The Irish manager stood by Darren Randolph and cursed his side’s luck as they were beaten again.
Oct 14th 2020, 8:22 PM 39,800 57

Updated Oct 14th 2020, 9:42 PM

STEPHEN KENNY BELIEVES Ireland did not deserve their latest 1-0 defeat to Finland, pointing at the number of chances his side created even in the final 30 minutes. 

“It’s disappointing to lose the game. Matt Doherty had a header over the bar and he had a shot wide, Aaron Connolly had two efforts, Enda Stevens hit the bar, Ronan Curtis hit the post and that was just in the last half-hour. 

“When Enda Stevens hit the bar that would have put us 1-0 up. A minute later we were 1-0 down. That was difficult to take. We’ve given a present away for the goal and that hasn’t been like us. Over the last two games we had two clean sheets. 

“The defence has been really good and Darren has been really good, but it’s just one of those things we have to put behind us.” 

Finland’s goal was rooted in an error by Daren Randolph, whose short goal-kick was intercepted by Teemu Pukki, who crossed the ball for Frederik Jensen to score the winner at the back post, much like he did in last month’s game in Dublin. 

“We have kept two clean sheets in the last two games, we were good defensively including Darren Randolph who has been excellent for us”, said Kenny. “You can’t legislate for a mistake sometimes, and Darren has been very consistent for us. It was his 47th international for us tonight and he’s been very very consistent for a number of years now. 

“It’s one of those things we have to accept. A disappointing goal to give away, of course. It’s hard to believe we didn’t score then, with the opportunities we had.”

Ireland are creating chances under their new manager but remain painfully goal-shy. They have scored just once in five games under the new boss now, which means Jensen has scored more against Kenny’s team than Kenny’s team has scored against anyone. 

The manager, however, accentuated the positives…in more ways than one. 

“I think there are mitigating circumstances. We have lost eight players through Covid-related issues, and we had three players – including our captain Seamus Coleman, Harry Arter – pulled out of the original squad, and we’ve lost David McGoldrick and James McCarthy. 

The fact we could lose eight players on the morning of the Wales game and the fact we go and play Wales and play reasonably well and more than hold our own speaks volumes for the players. They didn’t deserve to lose in Slovakia they were absolutely exceptional. Tonight we had spells where we need to improve, but there were other times when we were very good. 

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Finland played well at times and so did we. It was a pretty evenly-contested match, and again in the dressing room wondering if we deserved to lose that. The answer is no, we probably didn’t. But we have done, and that’s not good enough from my point of view.” 

Kenny was also asked about the prospect of next month’s international games going ahead, given the rise in coronavirus cases across Europe has been reflected in an increased number of positive tests among international football squads.

Ireland are due to play Bosnia away in a contractually-obliged, consolation friendly next month, ahead of the closing Nations League double-header against Wales and Bulgaria on 15 and 18 November.

“I honestly don’t know. Speaking to some of the senior management at the FAI, that doesn’t seem to be the case. The plan is for the internationals to go ahead. Society must continue to exist amidst crisis.

“You must try and live as normally as you can. Do you cancel everything? For how long do you cancel it? Until a vaccine is found? When is that? Nobody has the answer to that.

“Do you just give up? Or do you accept there will be issues, but you must [continue], through the element of persistence and the values we learn in life and are distilled in football. The importance of football to the nation, do we consider that and say yeah, we will continue to play? These are things that have to be discussed.”  

 

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Gavin Cooney

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