Tuesday 28 March 2017

Daniel McDonnell: Stephen Kenny awards snub is a regrettable outcome

Stephen Kenny snubbed for manager of the year nomination
Stephen Kenny snubbed for manager of the year nomination
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

On Wednesday, the Irish managers who achieved great things in 2015 will gather for the Philips Sports Manager of the Year awards - a meeting of minds that is one of the highlights of the Christmas calendar.

Remarkably, Stephen Kenny, who led Dundalk to a historic double, is not scheduled to be amongst them. He didn't receive a monthly nomination.

It is customary for the league-winning manager to scoop the October award, and the cup victor to take the November crown, barring exceptional circumstances.

This year, those exceptional circumstances came to pass with Michael O'Neill collecting the October award for bringing Northern Ireland to Euro 2016, and Martin O'Neill being honoured in November after the Republic booked their ticket for France. Both deserve the recognition and will be contenders for the gong; Jack Charlton, Brian Kerr and Giovanni Trapattoni all scooped the award in the years where they qualified Ireland for major tournaments.

The latter collected the prize in 2011 when the younger O'Neill should really have been recognised for bringing Shamrock Rovers to the Europa League group stages, a triumph against the odds that outranked Ireland's playoff win over Estonia.

Of course, the international element is always going to be rated ahead of local exploits. But this was no ordinary year on the domestic scene.

Kenny shouldn't have been left out the equation, given that his achievements in Louth - starting a team from scratch and moulding them into the best operation in the country - exemplify good management. His team retained their title in style, breaking the all-time League of Ireland goals record in the process. It was an extraordinary campaign that paid a compliment to the attitude that was created behind the scenes.

September's manager of the month tends to be a joint award - Brian Cody and Jim Gavin shared it this year - presumably because excluding an All-Ireland-winning manager would be considered inappropriate.

The same logic should have been applied to Kenny for October or November.

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