Ryan Byrne/INPHO

'Mick McCarthy leaves a legacy behind, he is revered in Ireland'

Stephen Kenny pays tribute to his predecessor as Irish football moves into a new era.

STEPHEN KENNY has expressed his gratitude to outgoing Ireland manager, Mick McCarthy, insisting the Yorkshireman’s legacy is secure in this country.

McCarthy handed over the baton to Kenny on Saturday as his second spell in charge of Ireland ended after just 16 months.

“Mick has had a tremendous career as captain and as manager of Ireland on two occasions,” Kenny said today on the FAI’s TV channel. “He leaves a legacy behind him. It has just been an unfortunate situation with the postponement of the matches (prompting Kenny’s immediate appointment). Mick is revered in Ireland. The contributions of Robbie Keane, Terry Connor and all of his staff, have been excellent.”

Kenny won’t have much time to find his feet with nine matches scheduled between September and November, including the crucial Euro play-off in Bratislava against Slovakia. No date has been set for that game yet although it seems probable that Uefa will seek to play it in November.

“I feel it is an unprecedented year – we have the Euro play-off against Slovakia coming up later this year, we will also have Nations League matches, nine games between September and November, an incredible schedule to look forward to. It is an exciting year,” Kenny said.

The new manager named his backroom staff today, with Keith Andrews stepping up from the Under 21s to become his assistant manager, Damien Duff recruited from Celtic to become senior team coach and Alan Kelly retained as goalkeeping coach.

“Keith has been coaching the Under 21s with me this year,” Kenny said. “We have a great rapport. He is very forthright and I welcome that. He has done very well. Damien (Duff) has a high work ethic, has been excellent all year with Celtic’s first X1 and is a big addition to our backroom team. And Alan Kelly is a man with huge experience, is a great analyst and we are thrilled to have him on board. 

“Jim Crawford is now stepping up to become Under 21 manager and he has made a great contribution over the course of the campaign. We are top of the group, and on course to qualify for the finals for the first time at that age-range. John O’Shea is coming in to assist Jim and comes with a lot of experience in the game.”

Kenny also paid tribute to the Irish medical people working on the frontline during this Covid-19 crisis.

He said: “At the moment, we have got to stay safe, look after each other. There has been a lot of tragedy throughout Europe. In Ireland people have been disciplined. Our thoughts are with the front-line workers, the doctors, nurses and medical people.

“Their sacrifices have been heroic. We really support them. There are better days ahead. We can look forward to those in a sporting context.” 

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