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It might not always be plain sailing with Stephen Kenny, but it will be worth it

Eamonn Sweeney


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‘The more enthusiasm and expectation surrounding the new era the better. We’ve done without either for long enough.’ Photo: Sportsfile

‘The more enthusiasm and expectation surrounding the new era the better. We’ve done without either for long enough.’ Photo: Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

‘The more enthusiasm and expectation surrounding the new era the better. We’ve done without either for long enough.’ Photo: Sportsfile

The revolution has begun. Stephen Kenny's first game in charge of Ireland saw a radical change in the way the team plays. There'd been warnings not to expect too much from the manager's debut outing. Pundits predicted Ireland might not be all that different from the team they'd been under Mick McCarthy. In fact, the change in style was so great as to verge on the shocking.

This might be slightly camouflaged by the fact that the result, a 1-1 draw with Shane Duffy heading a late equaliser, evoked a distinct feeling of déjà vu. But delve a little deeper and it's clear that what happened in Sofia was nothing less than the replacement of the philosophy which has held sway over the Irish team for decades by an entirely different one.

In Sofia, Ireland enjoyed a 63 per cent share of possession. That's an almost unparalleled situation. In our last Nations League away match, under Martin O'Neill against Denmark, we had 30 per cent. In our last competitive away match, under Mick McCarthy against Switzerland, we had 40 per cent.