Supporting Opinion

Kenny is sadly on borrowed time as Irish continue to flounder in Europe

Inside Track with John McIntyre

It’s sad to be even saying it, but Stephen Kenny is probably a dead manager walking. His tenure as Republic of Ireland team boss was already hanging by a thread ahead of the team’s latest European Championships Group ties against France and the Netherlands, but defeats – even if they were expected – in those games have only served to tighten the noose around the Dublin native.

We had hoped that depleted Ireland would pull off some sort of a miracle against the second and seventh ranked teams in the world, but despite the heroic efforts of the players – most of whom are cross-channel journey men – there has been no upturn in Kenny’s luck or the men in green’s fortunes.

Only the unrealistic would have anticipated any kind of positive outcome against the French. They were just too good despite Ireland’s honesty of effort. A 2-nil defeat was acceptable in the circumstances, but that outcome only cranked up the pressure on Kenny and his squad for Sunday night’s last-saloon clash against the Dutch.

Once more, there was a near capacity crowd at The Aviva, with the home fans willing Kenny to pull off the biggest triumph of his three and a half years in the Irish job. The place erupted when Adam Idah expertly stroked home an early penalty, but it proved a false dawn despite the Irish team running themselves in the ground.

Ultimately, the Netherlands carried the day by two goals to one. It was a deserved win. They were technically more proficient and rode out the late home storm with a degree of comfort. The result leaves Ireland with a measly three points from five matches and facing a battle to even finish third in the group and to earn a possible play-off spot.

It’s probably odds against that scenario unfolding, but the big question is will Kenny be allowed to see out the qualifying campaign? The vultures are circling: many former players in punditry positions were hardly supporters of the Irish manager in the first place, while large sections of the media have been turning the screw on Kenny as well.

Pictured: St James’ Eoin Finnerty on the move against Seán Ó Curraoin of An Spidéal during Sunday’s Senior Football Championship tie at Pearse Stadium. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

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