Thursday 8 December 2016

Former Dundalk star Richie Towell backs Stephen Kenny to succeed Martin O'Neill as Ireland boss

Published 21/11/2016 | 16:49

Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile

Richie Towell believes Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny is positioning himself to be the natural successor to Martin O’Neill as Republic of Ireland.

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In an exclusive interview with Independent.ie, former Dundalk midfield hero Towell has suggest that Kenny is moving into pole position to succeed O’Neill when the moment comes for the 64-year-old to step away from his post with the national team.

While Ireland’s sparkling start to their World Cup qualifying campaign should ensure that O’Neill’s tenure in his current post will not be threatened any time soon, Towell has offered a glowing endorsement to the manager he thrived under before his move to English Championship side Brighton earlier this year.

“I have heard the rumours that Stephen could be a potential Ireland manager in the making and why not, I think we would do a great job,” states Towell.

“You look at Michael O’Neill and he made the step up to international football from Shamrock Rovers to Northern Ireland and he has done brilliantly for them. He got them to a European Championships and they gave a good account of themselves there.

“I see no reason why Stephen might not be a contender to be the next Ireland manager. If he wanted to go on to the next level then I think he could do it.”

Towell has also backed his former Dundalk team-mates to extend their run in this season’s Europa League, as they prepare for a crucial game against AZ Alkmaar in Tallaght on Thursday.

Victory against the Dutch side would push the Airtricity League champions towards a place in the knock-out stage of the competition, with Towell convinced they can continue their European adventure.

“Everyone thought they were going to be the whipping boys, but they are holding their own and they are doing the country proud,” he added.

“Stephen Kenny always wants the lads to play football and express themselves and that’s why they have been thriving. I know from my time there that it was a great place to be and his philosophy of football is fantastic. It has been unbelievable.

“I have been in touch with all the lads there and to see them do what they have done has been fantastic. I have a lot of great friends there and we should not be surprised to see them competing at this level in the Europa League.

“It’s a massive step up to play group stages of a major European competition, but they have handled it so well.

“There is no jealously on my part that I am not involved in this Europa League story with the lads. I would only feel happiness that they are doing so well, especially lads like Andy Boyle and Dane Massey who I travelled up with and got to know so well. We were like a little family and I’m so pleased to see them doing so well.

“Also, it was great to see Andy and Daryl Horgan get into the Ireland squad. I sent them a text message to congratulate them.

“Hopefully they can get a positive result in this next game and it would be amazing to see them in the knock-out stages.”

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