STEPHEN KENNY says that his dismissal by Shamrock Rovers, less than one season into a three-year contract with the Hoops, was "hard to take" as Rovers plan for a future without the Tallaght native in charge.
Kenny knows all about the harsh side of football employment and unemployment from his earlier exits from Bohemians and Dunfermline, but even so, the 40-year-old did not expect to get the bullet from Rovers yesterday, just hours after his side had lost at home to Bohemians.
Football history has a funny way of repeating itself. Back in 2006 Kenny's successor at Bohemians, Gareth Farrelly, was unable to continue in his job at Dalymount Park after Farrelly's side, a full-time Premier Division team, lost a Cup game to a First Division Rovers side made up of part-time players.
And so it was deemed unacceptable for the current Rovers crop, a full-time squad in all but name with back-to-back league titles and Europa League qualification still fresh in the memory, to lose 4-0 and 1-0 to a Bohs side full of youngsters, many of whom are on €100 a week or less.
Perhaps Kenny was living on borrowed time since the summer when, in the space of three weeks, his side were humiliated 4-0 by Bohs at Dalymount Park and then dumped out of the Champions League at the first hurdle by a Lithuanian side who were then beaten 11-0 on aggregate in the next round.
Rovers' fortunes had improved in recent weeks with an impressive run of four wins in five league games as the Hoops also progressed in the cups, reaching the League Cup final and the FAI Cup quarter-finals.
But a return of one point from the last two league games has left Rovers back in fourth place in the league table and in serious danger of missing out on Europe, unless they can win the FAI Cup.
Kenny still believed he could turn things around but was not given the time.
"I was surprised, I didn't see it coming, not after talking to the board on Monday night. But I have nothing bad to say about the club or the fans. I have no problems with anyone there. But this is hard to take," said Kenny.
"We would only be four points behind Drogheda if we won our game in hand so we could have caught them. I'm extremely disappointed.
"Shamrock Rovers are a massive club and obviously they paid €25,000 in compensation to take me from Derry last year. So I thought I'd at least get one full season."
Instead he's gone after less than one full season. Rovers will have to pay compensation for the remaining time on his contract and the position of his backroom staff is also up in the air -- Kenny's assistant Stephen Glass is in charge for Friday's FAI Cup clash with Shelbourne while player/coach Colin Hawkins also remains on board.
Failure to qualify for Europe would be a disaster for a club who enjoyed such success in UEFA competition last year and the board hope that a fresh voice in the dressing room can at least achieve that aim.