The kids are more than alright!
And it all feels so different once more. A late equaliser or winner will do that of course.
It was so disappointing to concede late on against Portugal but it felt great watching a young Ireland team put Serbia to the pin of their collar on Tuesday night!
That match in Dublin followed an absolutely superb performance in Portugal when the Republic conceded two very late goals after leading for much of the game. It was sandwiched with a terrible draw against Azerbaijan.
The atmosphere at the Serbia game on Tuesday was interesting. It sounded electric with 25,000 present even though the Irish team was under pressure for a lot of the game. It sounded like the crowd supported Kenny and what he is trying to do. Dundalk manager Vinny Perth and Irish Times journalist Gavin Cummisky said on Newstalk that although there was a few boos at the end of the Azerbaijan game, people at the game were very supportive of the team and Stephen Kenny.
The truth is that Ireland are no great shakes. We are no great shakes under Stephen Kenny, nor were we under Mick McCarthy or Martin O’Neill. It’s just where we are.
Football is a low scoring game and we don’t score goals. We haven’t done for years. Since Robbie Keane retired, we haven’t had a decent goalscoring forward.
Our best recent forward was Sheffield United’s David McGoldrick who was famous in the Premier League for going so long without scoring.
Now the young Corkman Adam Idah leads the line. He was masterful against Portugal, providing an outlet, harrying defenders and being a threat in behind. He was man of the match against Azerbaijan and was good again against Serbia. If he starts scoring goals, that will help us immensely, but it’s not just down to him. Our prime source of goals for some time has been defenders. What we have been doing hasn’t been working. We need to do something different. We need to blood younger players, develop them and improve them. But there will be bumps along the way.
What is the alternative to Stephen Kenny? The favourites cited during the week include Roy Keane, Robbie Keane, Damien Duff and Sam Allardyce. The first three have either very little managerial experience or in Roy Keane’s case, very little recent successful managerial experience.
Sam Allardyce has his virtues but we’ve been playing his form of direct, long ball football for years and without a finisher, it hasn’t gotten us very far. He is very unlikely to try and develop the young players who can make us better in the future. Since 2017, we’ve won five of 32 competitive matches. Those wins have not come against giants of the game. We’ve beaten Gibraltar twice, Georgia, Moldova and a Wales team without Gareth Bale.
We can’t expect Kenny’s young team to suddenly win lots of games. Give them time.