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'The match-going stadium fans are still 100% behind Stephen Kenny'

Football Family podcast hears that Ireland’s hardcore support is united in its backing of the manager.

'If anyone wanted to make a move against Stephen Kenny it would take a big personality to do it.'
'If anyone wanted to make a move against Stephen Kenny it would take a big personality to do it.'
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

DOES THE LANSDOWNE Road crowd remain steadfast in its support of Stephen Kenny, or were there some boos following Armenia’s equalizer and does that indicate a changing of sentiment towards the Ireland manager? 

One match-going fan resolute in his belief that supporters are behind Kenny is The42’s Kevin Brannigan. The documentary maker and regular of the South Stand, upper, said he couldn’t hear boos where he was sitting and that game-goers are united in their enthusiasm for the Kenny project, even if some in the media have cooled on the manager who has been in charge since 2020.   

Brannigan said on the Football Family, a podcast available to The42 members, that Irish soccer has squandered the hegemony it enjoyed in the mid-90s, and is now moving towards a new era. 

“Last night I went to the game with a mate of mine who would not be a football fan,” Brannigan said. “I asked him when was the last time you were at Lansdowne? He was like, “Do you know what, it was Kevin Moran’s testimonial in May 1994. That was 28 years ago. When the match went stale he was kind of like, ‘So what’s happened in the last 28 years with the Irish football team?’”

Brannigan joked that he gave his friend a “potted history” of the past three decades and added: “On a serious note, if you look back to May 1994, we had the hegemony then, it was the thing. So, it’s like we really wasted those years. We didn’t invest, we didn’t go with the zeitgeist that we had. And then next thing the GAA realised, ‘God we’ve got to do something’, and it took off.

“It was just interesting using his reference point of Kevin Moran’s testimonial to have a think about what the hell’s happened. I think Kenny is still seen by fans as an outsider, as not the FAI, he’s still seen as the rebels’ choice. 

“Irish football is in a really weird position, still. It’s got no sponsor. The stuff that’s lingering in the background with Delaney hasn’t happened yet . . . that will come back into the news. And that’s why sponsors are probably sitting on the sideline wondering whether they want to come in? Do they want to be involved while that’s all being dragged up? 

“This is still, when we look back on it in 10 years’ time, a transition period of moving out of that Delaney era into a new era of whatever that era is. And people are putting a lot of work into getting us to that new era. 

“I’m looking forward to the Norway game, and looking even more forward to next year’s qualification and Italy away and England away or France away or whoever we get drawn with, we’re in pot three. 

“But you know what, it’s definitely going to be fun. There’s going to be really late goals scored and if last night is proper qualifier we would have won 3-2 and we’d be happy now with three points on the table. It’s going to be entertaining, you can say that about the Kenny era, it’s going to keep being entertaining.”    

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Brannigan said since fans have been allowed back into Lansdowne Road en masse following Covid restrictions, they have been “totally behind” Kenny, with Tuesday night being no exception.   

“I can see today there’s been a slight shift in tone in the media in that some people who I would have thought had been, you know, more behind Kenny than others have . . . I could see a change in tone in their match reports, they’re going like ‘This can’t go on, can it? Etc’ . . . But that hasn’t happened with the match going stadium fans, they are still 100% behind him.”  

Brannigan argued there is unlikely to be a change of management in the near future. 

“If anyone wanted to make a move against Stephen it would take a big personality to do it and it would be a big move, so I don’t see that happening any time soon,” he said. 

To get access to Football Family, with Gavin Cooney, David Sneyd and Shane Keegan, become a member of The42 at members.the42.ie. 

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