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Stephen Kenny: Football Association of Ireland confirms Republic manager’s exit

Kenny waves to the Irish fans following Tuesday's friendly draw with New Zealand
Kenny leaves with a record of just six wins from 29 competitive games

Stephen Kenny’s time as Republic of Ireland boss is over after the Football Association of Ireland confirmed it will not be renewing his contract.

The 52-year-old had been expected to depart after failing to qualify for Euro 2024.

The FAI were expected to make a decision on the Dubliner’s future at a board meeting next week but decided to confirm his exit on Wednesday.

Kenny, who was appointed as Mick McCarthy’s successor in April 2020, said on Tuesday that he did not expect to be offered a new deal.

The FAI said the decision was taken following a meeting and presentation to the association’s board by director of football Marc Canham and chief executive Jonathan Hill.

“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,” read the FAI’s statement.

Hill said: “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.

“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.”

Kenny pictured during the Republic's defeat by the Netherlands
Kenny was unable to guide the Republic back to tournament football during his time in charge

Having built an impressive reputation in the Irish club scene, winning League of Ireland titles with Dundalk and Bohemians and helping the former reach the Europa League group stages, Kenny was appointed Republic Under-21 boss in November 2018.

The FAI’s original plan was for Kenny to succeed McCarthy as senior manager after Euro 2020 only for the global pandemic, which caused the postponement of the play-offs and the tournament itself, to accelerate Kenny’s ascension.

But after losing to Slovakia on penalties in the Euro 2020 play-off semi-final, Kenny oversaw a disappointing 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign during which the Republic picked up just nine points from eight games and lost at home to Luxembourg.

The Republic went on to secure just seven points from six 2022-23 Nations League games before falling short in their bid to reach next summer’s Euros in Germany.

While Kenny’s side were drawn in a difficult group alongside France and the Netherlands, losing home and away to Greece weakened Kenny’s position.

Ushering in next generation is Kenny’s main legacy

Analysis – Matt Gault, BBC Sport NI

Kenny’s departure had been widely expected for some time and it was practically impossible to view it as anything other than inevitable after attending his press conference following the New Zealand game on Tuesday, where he cut an undeniably crestfallen figure.

Plainly put, the results weren’t good enough. Kenny came in with the promise of transforming the Republic’s style, but his detractors grew after a disastrous home defeat by Luxembourg in March 2021.

Drawing at home with Azerbaijan and losing away to Armenia certainly did not help his cause.

There was the odd highlight, of course, namely beating Scotland 3-0 in Dublin in the Nations League, but Kenny’s main legacy will be his role in blooding the Republic’s next generation.

As for the FAI, with no competitive action for the Republic until September, the association will surely take its time to find a suitable replacement. But as Kenny proved, it will be a tough job for whoever takes it.

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