Sunday 22 September 2019

Stephen Kenny hails Connolly's contribution as Ireland U-21 notch another win

Aaron Connolly of Republic of Ireland in action against Erik Vardanyan, 6, and Arlen Tsaturyan, 9, of Armenia during the UEFA European U21 Championship Qualifier Group 1 match between Republic of Ireland and Armenia at Tallaght Stadium in Tallaght, Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Aaron Connolly of Republic of Ireland in action against Erik Vardanyan, 6, and Arlen Tsaturyan, 9, of Armenia during the UEFA European U21 Championship Qualifier Group 1 match between Republic of Ireland and Armenia at Tallaght Stadium in Tallaght, Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Stephen Kenny hailed the exciting Aaron Connolly after his starring show for the Irish U-21 side in their win over Armenia, stressing that his talent needs to be encouraged.

The Brighton player showcased his speed and skill at Tallaght, making the only goal of the game for Troy Parrott from a superb solo run.

Connolly arrived into the camp in buoyant form following his Premier League debut for Brighton off the bench away to Manchester City.

And the 19-year-old was picked out by Kenny in the aftermath of a 1-0 success.

"Aaron wants to play centre forward," said Kenny, "He's never played on the left for his club really and he's played on the left for us in Toulon and here tonight.

"He's so quick, he carries the ball, he's exciting with his low centre of gravity. Not everything came off for him and he got fouled a lot. Some of them weren't given. But he did brilliantly.

"He's not James McClean," continued Kenny, when asked about how Connolly's skillset should be utilised. "He's not going to be covering behind the left tackles.

"But he's an outlet, you can find him with one pass and they really doubled on him. There was two right backs out on him in the second half and that won't be the case in other matches for him."

Kenny was also pleased with the contribution of goalscorer Troy Parrott, who had never played at U21 level before. Bournemouth's Gavin Kilkenny also made a debut at this level. The manager said that his players were actually a bit frustrated that they didn't add to Parrott's first half strike.

"The players weren't ecstatic or elated but overall it was a good performance," he said. "I had to remind them we had just won a European qualifiers. But there can be an improvement in the final third."

Kenny's side have won their opening two games in their group and now travel to face Sweden on Tuesday.

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