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Cunningham critics deluded -- Richardson

Damien Richardson yesterday issued a stinging rebuke to those who have criticised his appointment of Kenny Cunningham as assistant manager of the Airtricity League XI for the forthcoming Dublin Super Cup tournament.

Cunningham's limited coaching experience and lack of familiarity with the domestic league has been used as a stick to beat him by several critics -- including former Shelbourne manager Dermot Keely -- but Richardson believes the criticism is 'myopic' and 'unimaginative'.

"I think the league itself has for too long stuck itself in the sand and thought that only League of Ireland people should be involved in League of Ireland football," said Richardson.

"To me, that's just not acceptable any more. We're not an incestuous league any more; we're now a league that's been performing well in European competition for the last seven or eight years.

"We've got to stop being myopic and allowing certain parameters being put on us because we're a small league in a small country.

"What's held our game back has been self-interest, self-indulgence and a willingness to limit our outlook on the game instead of looking to the horizon and extending our imagination.

"Bringing Kenny in to help me with this job is a terrific progression in that respect. Most importantly, it's a huge boost for the team itself."

Cunningham has completed both the UEFA 'A' coaching licence and Pro-Licence, but his only real-world experience was a short stint recently with English non-league outfit Nuneaton Town.

Yesterday, the Dubliner didn't try to gloss over his limited CV, but insisted he could still make an important contribution as Richardson's assistant.

"People ask what sort of coaching experience I have and the truth is not a huge amount -- but I had a very experienced career as a player," said Cunningham.

"That doesn't automatically make me the best coach in the world, but I do believe I have something to offer. I'll contribute as best I can and hopefully I'll get a good reaction from the players.

"It won't be a case of 'do what I say'. I'll offer my opinion, hopefully get some positive feedback from the players and between us all we'll put something in place that will serve us well over the two games."


Cunningham has no hard and fast plans about where his budding coaching career will go from here, but didn't sound too enthusiastic when asked would he consider coaching or managing an Airtricity League team.

"I'm really not giving it any thought or looking that far ahead. I'm not looking beyond this tournament. It would be disrespectful of me if I did that," he said.

"When I came out of the game I just wanted to focus on getting my coaching badges because the coaching side of the game is something that has always interested me.

"I just want to get a job with some responsibility in a good working environment.

"If I were to work in Ireland, I think I'd have to commit to it fully and move my family back here. Ideally I'd like to work closer to where my home is now.

"There are a lot of other ex-players like me who are looking to step back into work, but it's not easy.

"If an opportunity presents itself, then great, but I'm not going to take a job just for the sake of it. It'll have to be the right job with the right structures around it."

Irish Independent