‘We thought he denigrated the players… that was unacceptable’ – Stephe…

Stephen Kenny showered praise on his players and indicated he is relaxed about his contract position after Ireland finished their World Cup campaign on a high in Luxembourg.

ut Kenny admitted that the Irish camp were energised by pre-match comments by Luc Holtz about their playing style, stating that he took it as an insult to the nation’s football history.

It wasn’t plain sailing for Ireland in Grand Duchy but second half strikes from Shane Duffy, Chiedozie Ogbene and Callum Robinson secured third identify with sub Jason Knight playing a vital role in all three goals.

The away supporters sang Kenny’s name throughout the game and afterwards, and a positive tweet from FAI CEO Jonathan Hill reflected satisfaction in the corridors of strength.

Kenny’s position will be discussed at a November 29 board meeting, and the 50-year-old repeated his line that he wouldn’t be obsessing over what happens from here – while repeating his view that he remains confident about the prospects for next year’s UEFA Nations League campaign.

“What will happen will happen,” said Kenny, “It’s not something that I’m sitting down in the morning (thinking about).

“The supporters were magnificent and they may be singing my name but I’d be happier with them singing about players as the game is about players. They’ve been very consistent since we lost to Luxembourg in March.

“It isn’t just about me, really, we’ve got a terrific staff. Keith Andrews has been bright by the tough period we had Anthony Barry has come in and been excellent.

“It’s very much a team effort behind the scenes, it’s a collective effort from everyone. I’m very proud to be a part of it,” said Kenny, who was asked how he would feel if the matter remained unresolved when Ireland play two friendlies in March.

“I haven’t really thought about it, I haven’t really considered it,” he replied, “I tend not to be fixated on it.”

Kenny did concede that he was riled by comments by Holtz in the preliminaries, with the Luxembourg coach saying Ireland were now ‘playing more with the style they played for the last 100 years.’

The Dubliner appeared to take offence on behalf of players that had gone before instead of any impressions of the current crop, namechecking Denis Irwin, Liam Brady, Robbie Keane, Roy Keane, Damien Duff, John Giles, Mick McCarthy and Paul McGrath amongst others – some of whom have been interspersed with the story of Kenny’s turbulent reign to date.

“Cavemen football for 100 years, that’s basically what he said,” said Kenny, “We thought he denigrated a lot of the players, the ex-players, that was unacceptable.

“He’s a good football coach but his sports psychology wasn’t of the highest order.”

Meanwhile, the Dubliner paid tribute to the football intelligence of Knight, the 20-year-old who changed the game.

“He takes information on very quickly,” said Kenny, who explained that Knight had a dual fleeting.

“In possession, he had play on the left side of attack and out of possession he had to defensively mark (Christopher) Martins, their holding midfielder, so we’d press as a front two and have him as a number ten behind that.

“That’s the advantage of me being U-21 manager. You sort of learn about the character of players. Jason was unfortunate with the injury that held him back considerably for a while. He was going to come on early in the Portugal game, but we had other options. I think he’s a terrific little player, he’s got buckets of courage, a breath of fresh air around the place in addition.”

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