Monday 16 September 2019

Memories of Kenny's Israel cameo drive Kelly backing of succession plan

Stephen Kelly: 'Mick will steady the ship but Stephen could be the man for the next generation'
Stephen Kelly: 'Mick will steady the ship but Stephen could be the man for the next generation'
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Stephen Kelly believes the FAI's succession plan could turn out to be a "masterstroke".

The former Ireland defender endorses the short-term logic of giving Mick McCarthy the responsibility of trying to make Euro 2020.

But he also has first-hand experience of what Stephen Kenny can bring to proceedings.

The ex-Dundalk boss is not a complete newcomer to the concept of working with an Ireland squad.

When Brian Kerr was overseeing the youth department, he brought Kenny away for a trip in Israel to 2000. Kelly was a part of the U-16 group that worked with him.

And Kenny - then a young boss with Longford - made an impression.

"That was my only experience working with him," said Kelly last night, speaking at a Euro 2020 'Street Football Legends' promotional event in Dublin.

"He was a young coach then, and he was a breath of fresh air - his coaching tactics, the way he went about things. He took a lot of sessions and we did well under him.

"I presume he's progressed over the last 20 years. I presume he's come on. You can see what he's done in Dundalk, what he has done there has been exemplary.

"To get him into the U-21 set-up could be a bit of a masterstroke.

"Obviously having Mick in charge now is great as well, to steady the ship a bit and get football back up to a level up to where everybody is happy. But going forward, Stephen could be the man for the next generation.

"I think for the short term, Mick was probably the perfect candidate. He knows what to do.

"Because the tournament is going to be held in Dublin, or some part of it, for us not to be in that - it would be dreadful, it would be a missed opportunity."

Kelly (36) is adjusting to life on the other side of the fence. He has been without a club since leaving Rotherham in the summer of 2017.

He has not officially retired from football, yet admits that he is enjoying the pace of life working in the media and gaining his coaching badges. In other words, a comeback is a long shot.

"I have had teams interested but not the right ones," he said, "I'm enjoying the time with my family, and I'm not actively looking for a club."

Irish Independent

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