Stephen Kenny: ‘We would have wanted more points. We are not denying that’

Manager backs Troy Parrott and says the focus is now on the Armenia game

Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny avoided any dramatic leanings towards the cold hard facts of this Nations League campaign.

At best Ireland will finish third behind Ukraine and Scotland, which means a third seeding in the Euros 2024 qualification campaign, at worse they will be relegated to the third division of European football.

When asked to categorise a return of one win from five matches in the Nations League, with three defeats at home to Ukraine reserves, away to Scotland and the disastrous 1-0 loss in Yerevan, Kenny emphasised the importance of retaining focus for the return meeting Armenia at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday.

“Ukraine and Scotland are very strong,” said Kenny of a competition he openly aimed to win. “It is a tough group. We would have wanted more points than we have. We are not denying that.


“Listen, now is not the time for that. We just got to focus on Tuesday and make sure we are ready for Armenia.”

Now is the precise moment for examining an eleventh defeat in 27 games as Ireland manager or, to be kinder by moving clear of the Covid nightmare, a third defeat in five competitive matches.

On Troy Parrott missing a clear chance to make it 2-1 to Ireland in the 56th minute, both managers took a generous approach to the 20 year old striker’s inability to score at the moment for club or country.

“The young lad Parrott will learn as he goes on and becomes a better player,” said Scotland manager Steve Clarke.

Kenny concurred: “We had a couple of great chances to take the lead after conceding the goal. Troy knows he should have scored but he’s been brilliant with us. Absolutely brilliant for us. His finish for the offside goal was brilliant.”

“It’s a tough game to lose. We showed real maturity in the first half and scored a very good goal by John Egan. We were comfortable in possession and didn’t conceded too many chances in the first half.”

The second half was a different matter entirely as Scotland’s Premier League calibre players took control, especially Aston Villa midfielder John McGinn.

“The penalty itself was contentious, very harsh,” Kenny said of Alan Browne’s hand ball before Ryan Christie scored the winner from the spot. “It appeared that Alan was pushed by a Scottish player that resulted in him raising his hands in an unnatural position.

“But Scotland showed their quality in the midfield area.”

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent