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Stephen Kenny rejects Roy Keane criticism and embraces the appreciation of Irish fans

Stephen Kenny with Troy Parrott last month after the last-minute winner against Lithuania. Photo: Sportsfile

Aidan Fitzmaurice

Stephen Kenny has rejected criticism by Roy Keane of the celebrations made by the Ireland players after last month’s narrow win over Lithuania.

Kenny insists that the reaction from the Lansdowne Road crowd to Troy Parrott’s goal, and the win, is a sign that players who were “not loved” by the public are now more appreciated.

Speaking on ITV after last month’s 1-0 win, Keane commented: “I think the celebrations at the end, way over the top”.

Kenny said Keane’s comments didn’t account for the background, where Ireland had four goals disallowed before Parrott struck an injury-time winner.

“If any of the other four goals that we scored had been allowed we probably would not have celebrated like that. I know that the four goals were legitimately offside but they were marginal decisions. Some of them were very marginal and you are not sure,” Kenny said.

“So it was a culmination of one goal being disallowed, two, three, four. Then Troy’s goal was so good and to get it in the 97th minute. To be fair, I don’t think that he (Keane) has been too critical overall. I have no problem with Roy Keane, really. It’s just a comment and I have not made much of it.

“We want our players to feel the affection of the crowd. That is one thing that is important to us. We want them to feel that. We did not always feel that all the players were appreciated or loved when I took over. We felt that some players were regarded more than others. Some players were revered and some players were not revered.

“That is only natural. But we have the feeling now that players who were not always revered are now feeling appreciated. The power and the energy from the crowd and their affection can be very strong and can have a positive effect.”

Meanwhile, Ukraine have confirmed that they will assemble in Slovenia next week to start the build-up to a series of games in June which includes two meetings with Kenny’s side. A squad of home-based players from Ukraine will work out of the Slovenian FA’s training centre with foreign-based stars, like Manchester City man Oleksandr Zinchenko arriving when club commitments permit.

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