The FAI have confirmed that Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny will take charge of the Republic of Ireland U21s with immediate effect before succeeding Mick McCarthy as senior manager after Euro 2020.
Speaking at McCarthy’s unveiling at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday afternoon, FAI CEO John Delaney said that Kenny “will be responsible for all underage men’s teams and will take charge of the senior team after Euro 2020.”
Kenny, who will be officially presented to the media at 12pm on Monday, initially turned down an offer to take over from Noel King in the U21 position but had his head turned by the FAI’s second offer which promised him the senior job in two years’ time.
“We had a discussion with Stephen about taking the U21 job and managing the underage sides. That would have been something we would have wanted him to do. In those discussions, Stephen said he wanted the senior job and he will do that in 2020.”
The exact nature of Kenny’s new position has still to be established. The U21s failed to qualify for next summer’s European Championships in Italy and San Marino and there is a possibility that the 47-year-old will only take charge of the side for a handful of competitive games.
Delaney was flanked at the press conference by the FAI’s high performance director, Ruud Dokter, and said Kenny would work in tandem with the Dutchman.
“The role Stephen is taking now is perfect. He’ll work in the FAI and understand international football better. He can’t wait to go to Europe and see how other managers work, and to work with Mick McCarthy. Ruud can’t wait for him to come in. It’s a step forward.
“Myself, the board and Ruud wanted to take Irish football to the next level, and getting Stephen Kenny involved was crucial to that, and we have the vision in place now. The next phase is to qualify for Euro 2020, then it’s Stephen’s job to get us to Qatar in 2022. Stephen is an outstanding manager, but by 2020 he’ll be even more experienced.”
McCarthy stated that he was ‘happy’ to take the reins until the end of the Euro 2020 qualifying cycle and said there was no ‘flexibility’ to extend his stay beyond that. The former Irish captain was due to meet Kenny in Dublin on Sunday night to discuss plans.
“I don’t know Stephen very well but it’s not an issue,” said McCarthy. “I’m working with Terry Connor and Robbie Keane. Stephen will hopefully be pushing players through from the U21s. I’ve got from now until March to get to know everything and develop a relationship with him. I’m meeting him tonight. He’s buying dinner,” he smiled.
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