McCarthy and Kenny The Right Blend

Gossip and confusion love a vacuum but there was no way that was going to happen with the FAI who moved swiftly over the past week to negotiate and announce new management structures that will take Ireland through not only Euro 2020 but well beyond as well.

Yesterday it was the turn of Mick McCarthy to pose and smile in front of cameras as he was announced as Manager of the national senior team through to those finals, four games of which will be staged at the Aviva Stadium.

Today Stephen Kenny will be sitting in the same seat as he is unveiled as the Manager of the U21 squad and then as the successor to McCarthy after those Finals.

It would appear that was the promise extracted from the FAI for Kenny to leave Dundalk and regardless of whether that is, in fact, the case it works on a number of different levels.


Qualifying for 2020 is important and there will be significant pressure given we will be third seeds when the draw is made next Sunday in the Dublin Convention Centre. There will be no honeymoon period for the new Manager to enjoy before being thrust into crucial games as early as March.

Little time as well then to unearth much by way of fresh talent but change had to happen with Martin O’Neill having lost the confidence of the fans and seemingly from the reports emanating from the camp, many of the players as well.

Mick McCarthy is a known quantity. He has overachieved with groups of players since leaving Ireland back in 2002, and that in many ways is what we need right now.

In the longer term though we want a system of players coming through that can give us more consistency and a better shot at regular qualification for the biggest of tournaments.

Stephen Kenny’s appointment is a vote of confidence in the Domestic game which has benefits in itself. He lives here, he is attuned to the mood of the media and of the fans better than if you were living overseas. He will also have two years attuning to the talent coming through not only at U21 level but at the development stages of U15, U17 and U19 as well.


He will be able to see at close quarters what elements of the senior team he will want to carry over from 2020 towards 2022 and how they can be integrated with the younger talent.

In short, he will have a fuller picture than any previous Ireland manager has been afforded and the time to see it before being thrust into the spotlight of a need for immediate results.

Ruud Doktor was at the top table yesterday when Mick McCarthy was introduced by John Delaney. Kenny will work closely with him to see the future of Irish football and hopefully to shape it as well as can be expected.

This is not a system that has been grabbed at out of expedience. It was the model that produced, albeit inadvertently, Gareth Southgate who transformed Englan leading into this year’s World Cup.

Closer to home albeit in a different code it is a path that was followed by Jim Gavin on his route to becoming arguably the best manager in the history of Gaelic Football.

We may discover in the coming hours and months that it will also be a process followed by Irish Rugby if Andy Farrell is named as successor in waiting to Joe Schmidt.

In the aftermath of O’Neill’s reign coming to an end, there were two realistic candidates to emerge as Manager. To effectively appoint both removes the danger of immediate polarisation that the wrong one was picked should results not go the right way as soon as March.

As we said, smart on a number of different levels.

Read More: The State of Football from our column in the Sunday Business Post

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