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Stephen Kenny: Republic of Ireland manager departs role after failing to qualify for Euro 2024

Stephen Kenny's reign as Republic of Ireland manager comprised 29 competitive fixtures, of which only six - five of them against Azerbaijan, Luxembourg, Armenia and Gibraltar twice - have ended in victory; 52-year-old's contract expired after New Zealand friendly

Stephen Kenny has left his position at Ireland
Image: Stephen Kenny has left his position with Ireland

Stephen Kenny's contract as manager of the Republic of Ireland senior men's team will not be renewed, the Football Association of Ireland has announced.

The 52-year-old, who replaced Mick McCarthy at the helm in April 2020, was in charge for the final time during Tuesday's 1-1 friendly draw against New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium.

His departure comes following Ireland's poor Euro 2024 qualification campaign, where the team missed out on a spot at next year's finals in Germany.

The Football Association of Ireland board reviewed the team's dismal Euro 2024 qualification campaign and has opted for a new profile in the dug-out.

In a statement on the FAI website, CEO Jonathan Hill said: "Following a board meeting this evening [Wednesday], the FAI can confirm that Stephen Kenny will not continue in his role as manager of the senior men's national team.

Kenny won just six of 29 competitive fixtures
Image: Kenny won just six of 29 competitive fixtures

"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.

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"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."

Ireland's hopes of making it to next summer's finals in Germany were dashed long before the defeat in the Netherlands confirmed their elimination.

Stephen Kenny's competitive Ireland record

Their poor showing in last year's Nations League meant even the safety net of a play-off berth eluded them.

Kenny's reign comprised 29 competitive fixtures, of which only six - five of them against Azerbaijan, Luxembourg, Armenia and Gibraltar twice - have ended in victory.

His early months in charge, which included a penalty shoot-out defeat by Slovakia in a Euro 2020 play-off semi-final, were complicated by Covid-19 regulations which severely depleted his squad over several windows.

Kenny: No greater honour than managing your country

Stephen Kenny's contract is set to expire
Image: Kenny was willing to carry on but accepted his fate

Kenny released a statement later on Tuesday, which began: "I am immensely proud to have served as Republic of Ireland manager and it has been the ultimate honour to manage my country.

"I want to thank all of the players who have represented Ireland during my tenure for their exceptional attitude and high level of professionalism. It has been really special to have been an integral part of their journey on the international stage.

"I have had the privilege of overseeing the evolution of the squad for the past three years and I am genuinely excited about the future of this group of players and look forward to seeing them mature and fulfil their collective potential."

Kenny added: "On behalf of the team, I thank you all for your incredible support right through to the end. My commitment to Irish football remains resolute and I look forward to supporting the team and wishing them every success."

Analysis: Where did it go wrong for Kenny?

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Former Ireland international Stephen Kelly admits he wasn't surprised to hear that the Football Association of Ireland won't be renewing Stephen Kenny's contract.

Former Republic of Ireland defender Stephen Kelly told Sky Sports News:

"The news is inevitable. I think people knew for a while that Kenny wouldn't be extending his contract. People have already started to speculate over who the next manager will be. His work ethic was fantastic but we weren't getting anywhere and we're getting further and further away from qualifying.

"We're now in a position where we're lower down the pecking order so the profile of nations we'll be facing in the next qualifiers will become even harder.

"To see someone from the League of Ireland get into a senior role, and his vision for grassroots football all the way through to the national team, it was infectious. But the results weren't there. There was an attempt to bring an attractive brand of football but we're now further behind than we were when he came into the job.

"When managers are giving players debuts, they have to be ready. No one gets a call-up to international level for the sake of it. Who wouldn't have Evan Ferguson in their team? Nathan Collins, too, was playing well at club level. But many players who are playing top-level in the Championship are going to play for the national team.

"We have some talented prospects for the future, so it's now about getting a manager in who can get them to compete and playing well together in order to qualify. We need to get back to being competitive to give us half a chance. We were faced with the Netherlands and France, but Greece were next in line.

"We need to get to a position where we're not dead and buried before the campaign has really started. We lost home and away to Greece. That's ultimately the games in which the manager was judged. That's where Kenny's downfall has been."

Who are the contenders to replace Kenny?

Lee Carsley made 10 changes to his England U21 side vs Croatia
Image: Lee Carsley has impressed for England U21s

Lee Carsley

Former Derby and Everton midfielder Carsley has enjoyed significant success as England U21s boss, guiding his side to European Championship glory last summer. Birmingham-born, he won 40 senior caps for Ireland and, at 49, has a wealth of coaching experience with Coventry, Sheffield United, Brentford, Manchester City, Birmingham and England U20s.

Chris Hughton

Current Ghana boss Hughton, who won 53 caps for Ireland as a player, has vast experience as a manager, guiding Newcastle and Brighton into the Premier League either side of spells in charge at Birmingham and Norwich. The 64-year-old was less successful in his most recent domestic role at Nottingham Forest, but has been working on the international stage since February and would tick a lot of boxes.

Sam Allardyce

Allardyce, who began his managerial career in Ireland with Limerick, has a track record reorganising and revitalising struggling teams and there is little doubt that he would make the Republic more difficult to beat as a first port of call. Now 69, he last worked at Leeds, where he was parachuted in for a brief, desperate and ultimately futile Premier League rescue mission at the end of last season.

Neil Lennon

Former Northern Ireland international Lennon has long been touted as a future Ireland manager after the success of his first spell at Celtic, during which he led the club to three successive Scottish Premiership successes, two Scottish Cup wins and the last 16 in the Champions League. However, his stock has fallen since his second incarnation at Celtic Park ended in disarray in February 2021 with the Bhoys trailing arch-rivals Rangers by 18 points.

Mick McCarthy

McCarthy's disgruntlement at the succession plan which saw Kenny replace him ahead of a Euro 2020 play-off tie against Slovakia was only thinly disguised, and he was not alone at the time. The prospect of taking the job for a third time might prove attractive to the 64-year-old, who guided the nation to the 2002 World Cup finals in South Korea and Japan, who has worked at Cardiff and Blackpool since his second international exit.

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