Tuesday 12 December 2017

Kenna blames blinkered clubs for the rising lack of player respect

Ruaidhri O'Connor IN OSLO

CONOR KENNA believes that League of Ireland players are losing respect for the clubs seeking to employ them.

Last season's St Patrick's Athletic captain has not heard from the club he skippered with aplomb since receiving his P45 on the final day of the campaign.

As a public servant, working at Tallaght Hospital, he is being cut every which way -- and his part-time job as a footballer is not providing the respite it should.

In another era, the teak tough central-defender -- one of the league's best players -- would be preparing for another season leading the Saints. Instead, he finds himself in Norway, playing for the PFAI team in the FIFPro-organised tournament against opponents from Norway, Sweden and Finland in front of scouts and managers from several countries.

And Kenna has strong words for the clubs back home who have put short-term security ahead of long-term planning.

"It's ridiculous, really. The one thing Shamrock Rovers have is stability. They are doing so well because of that," he said.

"Pat's were getting that, Pete (Mahon) was building that, but they wanted to go a different way. Fair enough, that's up to them.

"But no club apart from Rovers has stability. (The other clubs) sign new players and it's not helping anything -- even the standard.

"It's hard, because fans want players to do their best for the club. Players do too, but everything keeps changing. New players come in and there's no stability. That makes it hard to respect the club."

Kenna has had some initial interest from Shelbourne, while his day job would mean any offer to move abroad would have to be a strong one.

Even so, he considers himself to be one of the lucky ones, with a number of others in the PFAI squad drawing the dole as they wait for offers.

"I'm lucky to have a job -- even though I'm getting cuts all over the place. But you wouldn't be doing the football at this level if you didn't love the game," he explained.

"Our last game of the season was up at Drogheda and, after it finished, Pete came up to us all with envelopes and said: 'I don't know what's happening, I haven't heard. There's your P45 and I'll be in touch when I know. All the best.'

"True to his word, he rang when he found out that he was out of the job.

"You can't argue with the job that he did at Pat's. It's very disappointing. We did well in Europe and we did well in the league as well, even though we fell away at the end.

"You can't see why the club didn't contact players who had a good season.

"The few I have spoken to haven't heard from them. It's not a nice way to go."

Kenna refutes the notion that the players' dispute with the club during their European run, which threatened the very future of St Pat's, has anything to do, with none of the 2011 squad having, as yet, been offered a contract by new manager Liam Buckley.

"No, what happened in Europe is the exact same as what is happening now -- no communication. We couldn't get answers then and now we're out of contract and we don't get answers.

"A lot of the lads played well during the season. They're top players and would be a benefit to any club," he said.

The Irish players will have an early start in Oslo this morning as they kick off the tournament against Sweden at 9.30.

The winners will take on the victors of the game between hosts Norway and holders Finland at 3.0, with the two losers playing each other at 1.30.

Irish Independent

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