McCarthy sees future panning out nicely for Ireland and Kenny
Manager suggests that the under-21s boss is in the best position at the moment
Mick McCarthy: “Stephen, at the moment, hast the best job.” Photo: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images
Mick McCarthy was predictably pleased with both the result and the performances that so many of his more marginal players produced in last night’s 3-1 win over Bulgaria at the Aviva.
“Ultimately the result pleased me,” he said, “because if I was sat here and we had lost 3-1 then we all know what you would be saying. There were some really good performances. Josh Cullen was well worth his man of the man award, James Collins knocked their centre half, upset him, and Jack Byrne lit the place up with this forward passing and created two goals.Well, created one and then had the pass for Enda Stevens”.
“So all of those things pleased me,” he said. “We were very good.”
Collins, he said, had pretty much “nailed down” his place in the squad for next month’s games with his performance here and Byrne could not be too far further behind given the tone of the manager’s assessment: “He’s got that position to play,” he said. “Up behind James, certainly that more forward position. And I’ve said to him, ‘if I see you back between the centre halves then I’m going to give you a kick up the hole’. He is so much more effective when he plays further up the pitch.”
McCarthy brushed off mentions of Troy Parrott, the Under-21s and who else he might have called in before suggesting that things were panning out rather nicely for his would-be successor, Stephen Kenny.
“Stephen at the moment has the best job,” he said. “I’ve come in and we’ve got the results, we’ve got the momentum. Stephen’s got the 21s , they are his team, you are all talking about him coming in to the first team.
“Meanwhile, it’s me who would have taken the brickbats had we drawn in Gibraltar and he is being protected. Hopefully we qualify for the Euros and it is seen to have been a good decision, doing what we have done.”
Kevin Long, meanwhile, scorer of the night’s second goal, was clearly pleased too with the way things had turned out.
“It’s a great feeling,” said the 29-year-old after having scored
scoring his first international goal in what had been his 12th senior appearance. “To play for your country is a magnificent feeling and to top it off with a goal is great.”
Long acknowledged that it had taken Ireland a while to properly find their stride but, he said, “in the second half we upped the tempo and played a lot more forward balls.”
Some of the best of those were produced by Jack Byrne who did as much here as could have been reasonably expected to deliver on all that earlier talk.
“Jack was outstanding,” said Long. “He’s a great player, you could see that when he came on. Some of his passing was magnificent and it was a great delivery for my goal.”