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hitting out WATCH: Defiant Stephen Kenny snaps back at critics as Niall Quinn gives him some pointed advice


Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny interviewed by media after the final whistle (PA Photo)

Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny interviewed by media after the final whistle (PA Photo)

Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny interviewed by media after the final whistle (PA Photo)

Stephen Kenny launched a passionate defense of his record as a manager and his credentials to remain in place as Republic of Ireland boss after his winless start in the job continued for an ELEVENTH game after 1-1 draw against Qatar.

After the embarrassment of a 1-0 defeat in Saturday's vital World Cup qualifier in Dublin, an improved performance from a more experienced Ireland team included a first half goal from James McClean.

Yet Qatar struck back after the break and the stalemate means Kenny has now gone a full year without a win and with pressure mounting around him, he used his interview with RTE Sport to hit out at his critics.

"People are coming out of the woodwork to kick us when we are down and that's to be expected, some people have turned very quickly, but we will get back on track and give the Irish supporters a team they can be proud of," declared a defiant Kenny.

"If we had won, it would have ended that statistic and I would prefer not to be answering that question every week," Kenny said of the winless run.

"I have to accept criticism but I am determined to improve, we are bringing players through which Ireland have not done in a decade.

"I've experienced a lot in my life, I feel really strong. You know what, I don’t care. I know what I’m doing, there is real clarity in what I am trying to implement. I don't care what anyone says, I am clear in what I want to do and it's irrelevant what other people think."

Kenny's move to pick more experienced performers like Shane Duffy, McClean and Jeff Hendrick gave Ireland more solidity in the first half, backing up the comments of Brian Kerr as he suggested some of the young players the Ireland boss has picked over the course of his painful reign as boss are not ready to play at senior international level, but he is determined to stick to his plan to revolutionise the team.

"I’m happy with the evolution of the squad, the way we are going, the influx of a lot of talent like O'Shea, Knight, Molumby, Cullen, Parrott, Manning, Bazunu, who have done well," he added.

"In the important one we got beaten by Luxembourg and even if we'd won against Qatar, we’d be disappointed with that. That still hurts and that’s something we have to contend with and live with.

"I am used to winning every week, I won the league four years in a row, in five years I lost hardly any matches, with the U21s we nearly won every match, the reason I was given the job was because of my record, I am happy with the way the team are progressing.

"I am disappointed about Luxembourg, everyone is coming out of woodwork wanting to kick us when we are down, and that's alright, it's part of the gig and I have to accept, I have great belief, I think we are going to formulate a squad over the next few years, and I am going to be part of that."

With Portugal and Serbia winning their World Cup qualifiers on Tuesday night, Ireland's hopes of reaching Qatar 2022 are all but over, but the FAI have insisted they will continue to back Kenny despite a woeful run of results.

And while Kenny insists he is following the right path by picking young players over experienced performers, former Ireland striker Niall Quinn believes the manager needs to learn the importance of having proven performers on the pitch at the highest level.

"Bring senior players with you, who have been around the block and will help you out," Quinn told Virgin Media Sport. "Mix youth with good experienced players who have never let their country down.

"There has been too much faith put in young players, even if they are flourishing on the training ground. The obvious answer is to blend youth with experienced players.

"We need to have a way of playing that looks co-ordinated and doesn't just rely on this passing the ball around idea. If we have to knock it long at times, that's fine at times.

"I also hope he understands the value of his experienced players after the Luxembourg game last Saturday."

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