Ireland part company with manager Stephen Kenny after difficult Euro qualifying campaign

Ireland part company with manager Stephen Kenny after difficult Euro qualifying campaign

STEPHEN KENNY'S time as Ireland manager has come to an end after the FAI revealed his contract would not be renewed.

The news comes after a disappointing Euro 2024 qualifying campaign, which saw Ireland win only two of their eight games — both against minnows Gibraltar — and lose the other six.

A statement from the FAI said that in the wake of the campaign, 'now is the right time for change'.

"The Board and all at the FAI would like to sincerely thank Stephen and his staff for their hard work, professionalism and unwavering dedication to the team, the fans, and to Irish football. We wish Stephen every success for the future," said FAI President Gerry McAnaney.

Difficult start

Kenny succeeded Mick McCarthy in April 2020 after a club career in which he won five Premier Division titles, three FAI Cups and six League of Ireland Cups.

The 52-year-old also led Dunfermline to the 2007 Scottish Cup Final but was unable to prevent the team's top-flight relegation that season.

He endured a difficult start to his Ireland tenure, with his first victory coming at the 12th time of asking — a 4-1 friendly win over Andorra in June 2021.

By that time, Ireland had endured a winless Nations League campaign and missed out on the chance to make Euro 2020 after losing a penalty shootout in a play-off against Slovakia.

Kenny before the international friendly match against New Zealand at the Aviva (Image: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Ireland also failed to win their opening five qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup, a run that included a shock 1-0 home defeat to Luxembourg, then ranked 98th in the world.

However, the defeat sparked a purple patch in Kenny's reign, with Ireland losing just one of their next 12 games, winning five.

The solitary loss was a late 2-1 defeat in a World Cup qualifier in the Algarve against a Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Portugal.

During this time, Kenny was rewarded with a new contract ahead of the upcoming Nations League campaign with a view to leading Ireland through qualifying for Euro 2024.

However, despite a comprehensive 3-0 home win over Scotland and an away draw with Ukraine, Ireland failed to win promotion from the Nations League, before embarking on their dismal Euro campaign.


In their statement, which came after Tuesday's 1-1 friendly draw at home with New Zealand, the FAI conceded Kenny faced a tough task in a qualifying group containing France and the Netherlands.

"Having reviewed the EURO 2024 qualification campaign in its entirety, and recognising how difficult the Group was, the results needed to realise our goal of qualification for the Tournament were not achieved," it read.

"The Board agrees that now is the right time for change ahead of the friendly matches in March and June 2024 and the next Nations League campaign starting in September 2024."

However, Kenny was praised by FAI CEO Jonathan Hill for blooding in a raft of exciting young players, handing debuts to almost two dozen new faces during his reign.

Evan Ferguson and Chiedozie Ogbene, pictured during last month’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Greece, are two players who made their debuts under Kenny (Image: Seb Daly/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Among those to make their senior international bow under the Dubliner are Brighton striker Evan Ferguson and Luton winger Chiedozie Ogbene, both 19, as well as 21-year-old Udinese defender Festy Ebosele.

"Over the period of his tenure, Stephen and his staff have worked tirelessly to create the right environment to support the development of our senior men's team, and we are hugely grateful for that considerable contribution," said Hill.

"Stephen has also overseen an important period of transition for our senior men's national team and has given debuts to a significant number of new and younger players and this will serve as a solid platform for whoever now takes this group of players forward."

Paddy Power have former Celtic manager Neil Lennon as 9/4 favourite to succeed Kenny, with Roy Keane (4/1), Lee Carsley (5/1) and Steve Bruce (11/2) also in the running.