Damien Delaney insists Ireland should not celebrate ‘worrying’ Armenia win
Robbie Brady’s last gasp penalty saw Ireland scrape a win after their allowed Armenia to come back into the game
Former Ireland defender Damien Delaney suggested manager Stephen Kenny got the “biggest get out of jail free card” as his side scraped a 3-2 win against the minnow of Armenia at the Aviva Stadium.
Robbie Brady’s last gasp penalty saw Ireland scrape a win after their allowed Armenia to come back into the game as Kenny’s men appeared to be cruising to just their second win of the Group 1 campaign after goals from John Egan and Michael Obafemi.
However, goals from Artak Dashyan and Eduard Spertsyan silenced the locals before Brady’s last-gasp intervention, the build-up to which saw both Hovhannes Hambardzumyan and Dashyan dismissed.
The win – just manager Stephen Kenny’s fourth in 21 competitive fixtures – came as a relief on a night when defeat would have meant relegation, but it will not end the debate over Kenny’s future as Ireland boss.
Delaney has been an outspoken critic of Kenny and he suggested this latest display was another example of a team struggling to thrive under the current management set up.
"I'm trying to process it," Delaney told Virgin Media Sport. "We were in complete control. It was really, really good performance and we did everything right, but my God we hit the self-destruct button.
"We got out of jail. It probably was a penalty, it is a clear handball, but they were pushing for a winner and we could have quite easily been relegated.
"Panic set in. We all of a sudden lost our shape, the midfield got very spread, players were enjoying themselves and we thought the Armenians had thrown the towel in. Everyone was just taking up positions that we shouldn't.
"The wing backs have pushed on, the centre backs were joining in and it was brilliant, we were all enjoying ourselves. Then their first goal went in and we couldn't hit enough panic buttons. Discipline and concentration went out the window.
"Stephen Kenny doesn't hold a patent on how an Ireland team should play football. There is a theory out there that if we get rid of Stephen Kenny, we are going to go and get Sam Allardyce and say we've had a go at this and we have to move on.
"I'm flabbergasted. There is nothing to be celebrated tonight. The biggest get of jail free card Stephen Kenny has ever got as a manager. He got a result tonight against a team ranked 92nd in the world.
"That was shambolic the way we gave it away. Since they beat us in Yerevan, they have lost all their games, conceded 14 and scored one. They had chances when it went to 2-2 by the way. Seriously worrying times. If we had won 2-0 and it was solid fair enough, but the way we lost it… processing that it hard.”
Former Ireland captain Kenny Cunningham insisted Ireland can qualify for the next European Championships despite a worryingly tight 3-2 win against Armenia at the Aviva Stadium.
The question marks over Kenny's future will continue after Ireland's failure to kill off the minnows in their Nations League group, but Cunningham insisted a young team are taking strides forward.
"I think we can qualify for the Euros," he told RTE Sport. "From the last couple of games, I see a little template there, but we need to get better.
"It's alright saying we want to play a certain way, but the type of players we need is not out there. We can see the pool of players that we have and we have to get the best out of them.
"We have to assess an understand the quality of the players we have in the team and I like what I have seen up to this game. There is no doubt that this is a step back."
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