Richie McCormack
Richie McCormack

21.38 3 Jun 2021


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Stephen Kenny admitted his first win as Republic of Ireland manager was "long overdue", with Troy Parrott's brace giving them a 4-1 victory in Andorra.

At the twelfth attempt the ex-Dundalk boss is off and running with the national team.

However, the win didn't come without a fright as Ireland fell behind to the side ranked 158th in the world as the result of some woeful set-piece defending.

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"It was a very strong second half tonight," Kenny said after the game, "And the players can take confidence from that."

"I think probably early-on," he added", "Our midfield players were a little deep receiving the ball.

"And there were big gaps between our midfield and attacking players, and we weren't cohesive, and they [Andorra] were difficult to break down.

"They are a difficult team in terms of... they're very well organised, Andorra, they don't concede that many chances in their matches. In the last window that we watched, even though they conceded less chances than goals - it was interesting.

"But I think when we got the first goal it was definitely a turning point for us in the game.

"Troy showed a lot of character to get the first goal. There was a bit of pressure on the players after conceding.

"Then we were very cohesive after that. Confidence is an important thing in football... [we] created a lot of chances then and took four of them with some very good goals."

Despite the eventual margin of his first victory, Kenny knows he can't get carried away with the 90 minutes that preceded it.

"Listen, we understand it's a match that the expectation is that you win it, so we're not patting ourselves on the back.

"But we're just saying the players responded well from going a goal down in the second half which they did, so credit to them."

Parrott's two goals were his first on the international stage, and it's his manager's belief that the 19-year old can only get better.

However, he feels Parrott is not the same player as the one who made his debut as a 17-year old against New Zealand in 2019.

"He was really more fluid a year and a half ago in his movement," Kenny revealed, "He was lighter on his feet and more fluid in his movement, and had real instinctive creativity.

"He's grown into his own body in the last year and a half. And all of a sudden he's got stronger shoulders and is not moving as fluidly, and that's been a factor for him.

"What he needs is confidence because all young players - they need good experiences for them to improve again.

"He's had loan spells where he's actually had some good games, but he's played on the left a lot and in different positions and maybe not been prolific in front of goal.

"I do think that he is still very young, and still has a lot of improving to do. And people aren't sure what his best position is.

"But he has the ability to create and score goals, and we need as much of that as we can get."

Bamboozled? 

Kenny also responded to a claim by RTÉ Sport analyst Richie Sadlier, who said Ireland players were "bamboozled" by Androrra's pressing in the first 45-minutes.

"I would't say we were bamboozled," the manager said, before pointing out that neither Jason Knight nor Ronan Curtis were natural wingers, despite being deployed as such.

"We didn't have that cohesive movement between our midfield two [Josh Cullen & Conor Hourihane]... maybe our midfield two they were dropping into areas too deep to receive it in the full-back areas, which sometimes can be very effective in controlling a game against really top-class opposition, dropping into those positions.

"But against opposition that are sitting off you, it's not effective.

"We needed to get Josh and Conor in central areas, and further up the park, and play good incisive passes into them and let them link with our attacking players in a way that they did in the second half.

Set piece defending

One certain area of worry for Kenny will be the nature of Andorra's opener from Marc Vales.

A static defence didn't know whether to stick or twist allowing him to open the scoring seven minutes after the break.

Kenny had mad a lot prior to the game of the benefit of having extra time to work with his squad, compared to a 'normal' international window.

"That was a poor one today, there's no doubt about that," he said of the Andorran goal, "from a wide free-kick, so I'll have to have a look at that.

"It's not something we've been focusing on, defending set pieces because there's only so much... we haven't had that long - you know, we've only had four days...  - we can't train every day coming into a match.

"We haven't been focusing on defending set pieces, we've been trying to work on creative elements of our game if we can within the different systems.

"No, it was a bad goal to concede today, there's no getting away from that.

"It's not like us to concede a goal like that from a wide free-kick, and I don't like that."

In spite of a clearly disappointing hour in the Pyrenees, Kenny is resolute in wanting to play football the right way.

"We want to have a bit of conviction as well," he said, "Just because we're on a bad run, not to say 'right, we'll go away from what we were doing, and just scrap it because we're under pressure'.

"We wanted to show a bit of conviction in players like [Gavin] Bazunu and [Dara] O'Shea and Knight and Parrot and others because they've done well, like the other players have done well in matches.

"We'll get a bigger test against Hungary on Tuesday, they'll be a tough game."

The Newsround | Stephen Kenny gets first ROI win but a sobering performance in Andorra


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Andorra Dara O'Shea Gavin Bazunu Hungary Ireland Jason Knight Republic Of Ireland Stephen Kenny Troy Parrott

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