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Dublin: 3 °C Monday 27 January, 2020

'It's in writing' - Stephen Kenny says nothing will stop him becoming Ireland boss in 2020

The outgoing Dundalk boss added that it was a privilege to be offered the opportunity to manage his country.

Stephen Kenny speaks at today's press conference.
Stephen Kenny speaks at today's press conference.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

- Paul Fennessy reports from the Aviva Stadium

NEW IRELAND U21 boss Stephen Kenny says there is no scenario where he would be prevented from taking on the senior role after Euro 2020.

It was confirmed on Sunday that the outgoing Dundalk manager would succeed new boss Mick McCarthy, after the latter’s two-year stint in the role ended.

Speaking at a press conference in Dublin today, Kenny played down suggestions that McCarthy could stay on should he perform exceptionally well.

The Dubliner explained that the guarantee of the senior position had been made to him in writing, adding: “If Mick gets Ireland to the Euros, I’ll be absolutely delighted. It would be great to take over [a team] playing with confidence. It’s great for me, because it’d be a massive achievement for him to [qualify for a major tournament] again. His stock will be really high. It would be great for him and great for the country. That’s only good news.”

August 2020 has been earmarked as the date when Kenny takes over and it is a remarkable rise for a manager who began his senior coaching career at Longford in 1998 and took over a struggling Dundalk team just five years ago, going on to win four league titles in five seasons in addition to some notable successes at European level with the Lilywhites.

It was a huge wrench to leave the club. I had tremendous relationships there at all levels, we had a brilliant period, but the international team is a huge honour. It’s something that you just cannot turn down. It’s an opportunity that has to be grasped.

“It’s just a huge privilege to be named U21 international manager and be here for the next four years really and beyond, I hope.

“Of course, I was reluctant to leave that to go anywhere, particularly with the seeding situation with the Champions League. To be seeded in the first round of the Champions League and possibly the third round of the Europa League — to leave that would have to be something special, and this is something special. It doesn’t get any more special than this.”


Kenny is understood to have turned down the U21 role initially before being swayed by the prospect of succeeding McCarthy. Asked about the discussions that led to his eventual appointment, he said:

I think it’s all hypothetical. Everything was just finalised on Saturday. A week ago, I couldn’t have envisioned this, of course, but it’s an arrangement that I’m perfectly happy with. It’s a great opportunity, and one that I’ll work extremely hard to do justice.”  

Kenny has already had the opportunity to meet with McCarthy and his other senior coaching staff, and the 47-year-old coach is determined to learn from his more experienced counterpart, having spoken to him for the first time in 15 years on Sunday evening.

He adds: “It gives me an opportunity to travel, see how the other international teams prepare; the tactical nuances of the different systems, really examine them at close quarters; the blocks of games close together in four or five days and explore the best practice for preparation.” 


The Dubliner, however, insists that his influence on the senior set-up prior to 2020 would be minimal.

“My role is now to assist and support all of the other managers and to nurture and develop and help inspire the new generation of Irish players for the future of Irish football. And I think that’s a very exciting period for everyone.

One of the things that have been obvious in our discussions is that the vision Ruud has as regards manager and ways of playing is similar to the one of myself. It is a bit of a meeting of minds in that regard.” 

Kenny added that he was leaving Dundalk “in a very strong place” and said none of the staff at the club would follow him into the U21 set-up.

The ex-Derry and Shamrock Rovers boss also said, with regard to rumours that Leeds and Ireland legend John Giles was involved in his appointment: “That’s completely news to me.” 

You can watch the press conference in full here:


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Paul Fennessy

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