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'You know what, I don't care. I know what I'm doing' - Defiant Stephen Kenny strongly defends Ireland tenure

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Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny encourages his side during the 1-1 draw with Qatar. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny encourages his side during the 1-1 draw with Qatar. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny encourages his side during the 1-1 draw with Qatar. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

A defiant Stephen Kenny says will ignore the critics who are "kicking us when we're down" as he insisted he is the man to lead the Republic of Ireland to success.

Kenny admitted his disappointment after his team played out a 1-1 draw against Qatar in Hungary, the 11th game of his reign without a win. There was frustration after a 1-0 lead from James McClean's third-minute goal, the 11th of his Ireland career, was cancelled out by an equaliser early in the second half, and the Republic were unable to find a winner.

So the wait for a debut win under Kenny goes on until the summer and friendly games against Andorra and Hungary.

But Kenny answered back at his detractors, including former players and other commentators in the media, and said he's confident the win will come.

"I've experienced a lot in my life, I feel really strong. You know what, I don't care. I know what I'm doing, there is real clarity in what I am trying to implement. I don't care what anyone says, I am clear in what I want to do and it's irrelevant what other people think," Kenny said.

"People are coming out of the woodwork to kick us when we are down and that's to be expected, some people have turned very quickly, but we will get back on track and give the Irish supporters a team they can be proud of."

"If we had won, it would have ended that statistic and I would prefer not to be answering that question every week," Kenny said of the winless run.

"I have to accept criticism but I am determined to improve, we are bringing players through which Ireland have not done in a decade.

"In the important one we got beaten by Luxembourg and even if we'd won against Qatar, we'd be disappointed with that. That still hurts and that's something we have to contend with and live with.

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"I'm happy with the evolution of the squad, the way we are going, the influx of a lot of talent like O'Shea, Knight, Molumby, Cullen, Parrott, Manning, Bazunu, who have done well.

"I am used to winning every week, I won the league four years in a row, in five years I lost hardly any matches, with the U21s we nearly won every match, the reason I was given the job was because of my record, I am happy with the way the team are progressing.

"I am disappointed about Luxembourg, everyone is coming out of woodwork wanting to kick us when we are down, and that's alright, it's part of the gig and I have to accept, I have great belief, I think we are going to formulate a squad over the next few years, and I am going to be part of that."

James McClean believes it's only a matter of time that Ireland's winless run ends, with the veteran claiming that the draw will be a turning point for the side.

On a night when he won his 80th cap, McClean scored the 11th goal of his international career to give Stephen Kenny's side the lead but Qatar equalised early in the second half and the Irish side were unable to find the net again, so Kenny still chases his first win after 11 games in charge.

"We went 1-0 up and it was a well-worked goal but we conceded just after half time and that's a disappointment, it would have been nice for the manager to get his first win, hopefully when the first one comes, the rest will follow," McClean told RTE after the game, as he pleaded for more time for Kenny's ideas to bear fruit.

"We have been a one-style nation for as long as I can remember, the manager has new ideas and so far the results haven't been how we want them to be but hopefully after Saturday and Luxembourg, that's a turning point."

"We’re really trying to get the manager’s philosophy out there, to be a 'pleasing on the eye' team. It’s going to take time, we’ve got new players. Hopefully we can get that first win soon, things will look brighter going forward," added McClean.

Meanwhile, Ireland defender Dara O'Shea maintains that the Irish squad remain supportive of manager Stephen Kenny.

For the second time in three games, the Republic took the lead away from home, but Mohammed Muntari pounced on slack Irish defending to equalise a minute into the second half and Ireland had no response.

West Brom man O'Shea, one of Ireland's better performers on a night, admitted his frustration that Qatar were able to equalise but he insisted that the squad remain are still behind their coach.

"Everyone's behind the manager. The other night, it was just the players and we have to take that," O'Shea said.

"We were prepared right for the games, the manager and staff prepared us right and I think it was just down to us, we didn't turn up and didn't perform, and that's that happens at these levels, you can't take your foot off the pedal and you've got to be clinical and not leave a game like that so late to try and score.

"I mean it doesn't really erase it as such, it was in the back of our minds coming into this game, we knew that something needed to change and I think we played well in spells. Everyone was obviously hurt and embarrassed from the other night and people had a point to prove and wanted to go out tonight and put things right."

He said the goal from McClean was a reward for work in training.

"It's obviously something that we worked on the day before the game and for it to happen so early on in the game was great," O'Shea said.

"It shows that we can take things from the training ground and put them into fruition out here, but obviously three games in succession is tough for us all.

"But at the end of the day we're all elite players and that's our job, we should all be prepared to go out and perform when picked."

On the equaliser he said: "There's always things you can do to prevent circumstances happening, and obviously for it to happen so early on in the half was tough for us and it's not OK, we need to be resolute and especially to start the second half well."

"Obviously we started the first half well and needed to do that again in the second, and obviously it was just a lapse of concentration, maybe, and a breakaway, and they punished us," added the Dubliner.


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