young guns Irish boss is ‘optimistic’ his young team will mature to become key players
Stephen Kenny has backed his young Ireland side to respond positively after another night of frustration.
His Ireland side squandered chances and then paid the penalty for a Darren Randolph mistake in a defeat to Finland which stretched his team’s goal famine to 480 minutes.
However, Kenny feels that his group have the mentality to respond to a challenging week centred around playoff penalty disappointment and Covid disruptions.
Dara O’Shea and Jason Knight made debuts against Finland, joining Adam Idah, Jayson Molumby and Aaron Connolly in the senior ranks and the latter had chances break the deadlock, admitting afterwards that he was guilty of ‘selfish’ decisions at the wrong time.
Kenny has backed his players to overcome this setback and bounce back in next month’s friendly with Bosnia and Nations League ties with Wales and Bulgaria provided those games go ahead.
“The players have shown real character and the young players that have come in have shown a great mentality and I am optimistic that they will go on to be important players for Ireland,” said Kenny.
“There are mitigating factors. We’ve lost eight players through Covid-related issues (Connolly and Idah returned last night). Seamus Coleman and Harry Arter pulled out of the original squad. We lost David McGoldrick and James McCarthy.
“We had periods of the game where we could have done better. But there were other times when we were very good.”