Five things learned from Stephen Kenny’s Nations League press conference


Stephen Kenny on Monday named a 27-man squad for next month’s Nations League games. In the space of 10 days, Ireland will face Armenia, Ukraine twice and Scotland.

Some notable names called out by Kenny are Swansea striker Michael Obafemi, who had been absent from recent squads; Blackpool winger CJ Hamilton who recently declared his interest in playing for Ireland; and the Festy Ebosele bound for Udinese.

These are five of the things we learned from today’s press conference.

He was impressed by Michael Obafemi

“It’s the first time in his career that he’s had a back-to-back streak,” Kenny said.

“It’s very difficult for young Premier League players to get that because the level is so high and the teams are so big.

“You can see the improvement in his game. I saw aspects of his game that I hadn’t seen before with Swansea. His hold-up game is really good. He showed great intelligence football aligned with the speed he has.

“The performances I’ve seen recently are better than I’ve ever seen from him. His rate of improvement has been very high. He’s not taking penalties and he’s scored 12 goals in 16 games, so he’s Very well done .

“I had a few meetings with Michael. Look, if everyone was the same, life would be boring. Michael is a charismatic guy. He’s very proud to play for Ireland in the games.”

It was the first time CJ Hamilton was available for the Irish selection

“He was someone I had little information about,” Kenny said.

“He lived his first 14 years at Waterford, played the Kennedy Cup for Waterford.

“Then he went to England. He took the road less travelled, playing in the Conference in England for a few years and then League Two, League One and the Championship. It’s been a very interesting trip.

“He is a very fast left winger, he also plays on the right. He has a very good attitude and made a very good contribution.

“He had to deal with injuries over the last few years. He broke his metatarsus and was out for the start of the season. He didn’t heal properly and he had to deal with that. The second half of the season he had a good impact for Blackpool.”

Kenny sees Festy Ebosele as a winger, not a defender

November 12, 2021; Republic of Ireland’s Festy Ebosele in action against Italy’s Emanuel Vignato during the UEFA European U21 Championship Qualifying Group A match between Republic of Ireland and Italy at Tallaght Stadium, Dublin. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

“I really see him as a right winger,” Kenny said of the 19-year-old who is set to join Udinese from Derby this summer.

“He’s someone who can play at right-back. That was also a factor in his selection. Seamus Coleman missed the game against Arsenal with a groin problem so we have to make sure we are covered in this area.

“I don’t really see him as a defender, but a winger is not necessarily a defensive position, depending on who you play.

“Not every game he’s played has been perfect. He’s still learning. His speed scares defenders.

“I see the pitch is big in these games. Against Ukraine and Scotland nobody is going to sit down, and the games are going to be really stretched. Even Armenia is not a team to sit down “They have a whole attacking setup with the way they play. I don’t see any of the games with a low block.

Aaron Connolly is injured

“He’s not feeling well himself,” Kenny said of Connolly, who spent the second half of the season on loan at Middlesbrough from Brighton.

“He feels the heel [injury] who he played with and who received injections towards the end of the season to play, it caused him a lot of discomfort. He was not available for selection.

“He’s had a spell on loan. When you talk to some coaches when you go around clubs in England, a lot of them say, ‘Disregard a player’s first loan spell‘. It’s a saying they have. They say, ‘Most first loans are not always successful’. He played a lot of games for Middlesbrough, and it was a good experience for him. I’m sure he has another loan, it will only be better.”

stephen kenny ireland press conference league of nations june 2022 November 10, 2020; Aaron Connolly and manager Stephen Kenny, left, during a Republic of Ireland training session at The Hive in London, England. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

He treats these games like a tournament

“It’s an 18-day camp,” Kenny said.

“We see it as a tournament. Sometimes when you go to a tournament the maximum teams will play is four games.

“We have to see it like that and prepare accordingly. Some players finished four weeks ago, some three weeks ago and some finished this week.

“Damien Doyle (the team’s sports performance manager) sent – even some players on standby – GPS units, so players could check in their stuff every day so they were ready to go in, ready to go. , and we had a recording of everything everyone did.

“It’s a challenge for some players. Obviously Nathan and Seamus just finished last week. We have to look at each one on an individual basis to maximize their physical capacity.”

press conference by stephen kenny league of nations june 2022


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