Monday 16 September 2019

Cherries man Kilkenny hails boss Kenny as U-21s aim for Swede success

Gavin Kilkenny. Photo: Sportsfile
Gavin Kilkenny. Photo: Sportsfile

Aidan Fitzmaurice

Much of the Giovanni Trapattoni era saw players go out and play for Ireland with the shackles on.

But for the new crop of players trying to make their way in their career in the green shirt, the message from U-21 team manager Stephen Kenny is to go out and express yourself, according to one of the most exciting attackers in that team.

Mick McCarthy name-checked Aaron Connolly, Jayson Molumby and Darragh Leahy as players who stood out for him from the U-21 side's 1-0 win over Armenia in Dublin last Friday, that win giving them confidence ahead of tonight's game against Sweden in Kalmar.

Gavin Kilkenny also impressed on his U-21 debut, the Bournemouth player on a high right now as he's made his first team debut for his club and also been called up at U-21 level in the space of a few weeks.

Following Kenny to the senior squad remains the goal and Dubliner Kilkenny says he's thriving under Kenny.

"Stephen is a great manager, especially with the attacking players, he lets us play free and he takes the shackles off," said Kilkenny.

"It's great to play under him, he really encourages us to express ourselves in the final third," added Kilkenny, admitting that more goals could and should have been scored at home to Armenia.

"Stephen going up to the senior squad can only be good for us all, he knows us and the way he wants to play, he will bring in young players who want to express themselves," added Kilkenny, who feels he has the backing of his club manager Eddie Howe.

"I have been told I am part of the plans at the club but I need to bide my time and keep going."

Three points in Sweden tonight would make it three wins from three for Kenny's side.

The U-21s have managed to win their first three qualifiers before and still not qualify, that run at the start of the campaign to get to Euro 2017, but avoiding defeat in Kalmar this evening would put Kenny's side in a very strong position, with far bigger tests to come in October, at home to Italy and away to Iceland.

Irish Independent

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