Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny says the suggestion he wouldn’t get the respect of the Republic of Ireland dressing room is “insulting”.
Kenny managed Dundalk to the double this season and eight trophies in six seasons. He is among the frontrunners to succeed Martin O’Neill as Ireland boss, though Mick McCarthy is expected to resume the role he left in 2003.
Several pundits, including former Ireland international Kevin Kilbane, have expressed the fear that Kenny might not be accepted in a senior Ireland dressing room because he lacks experience in the English leagues.
But in an interview with Emmet Malone in Friday’s Irish Times, Kenny dismissed that argument.
“I actually find the question quite insulting.
“But I know a lot of the players. I gave Stephen Ward his debut at Bohemians; gave James McClean his debut at Derry, then sold him. Obviously there are some former Dundalk former players involved and a lot of the others . . . Sean Maguire, Enda Stevens, David Meyler. a high percentage of the players have been in the league. Shane Duffy was around the scene at Derry, even though he went away at a young age so I don’t consider that an issue.
“I think it’s a non-argument. I find it difficult to understand why people would even suggest it."
“I am qualified to do it,” he added. “I am absolutely qualified.”
Kenny also sets out his belief in the way Ireland should play.
“Well, philosophy is an overused word but it’s the way I view the game and I think it’s the way a lot of players love to play the game. Midfield players love to be able to join in, to receive in on the
half-turn, link with their front players, there must be movement off the line from wide players, full backs overlapping, connections ”
And he is adamant Dundalk’s performances in the Europa League underline his ability to coach progressive football in a demanding environment.
“There is a huge desire to see really good football, to see players really showing the talent that they have, realising their potential.
"There is a determination to see a high level of skill and a team playing in a really progressive way.
“Do I think that I could take charge of the next generation of Irish players and turn them into a really cohesive team; combining the best virtues of Irish sides – the honesty, work-rate and passion that we’ve shown down the years – but introducing a more European style of play, a more fluid and expansive way? Yes, I do.”