Stephen Kenny gives positive update ahead of Ireland’s closing double title


After an interview with Irish manager Stephen Kenny in the back garden of a large Haddington Road house, converted into 18 single rooms for the homeless, only Fr. Peter McVerry remained, conversing about his cellphone.

“Six children? Father McVerry asked aloud. “Okay, six,” he confirmed as the first cold in November swept through Dublin city.

“I went to see Peter talking to Buncrana,” said Kenny of the Jesuit priest who created the charity that focuses primarily on young people with complex needs. “My wife Siobhán and I went with him and spent some time with him up there. He told us about his whole strategy and his plan.

“Just a very, very humble guy who’s been there ever since [the Peter McVerry Trust] started 42 years ago. The thing is, they cut through and get right to the point. They just built 500 units, they call them, but 500 houses.

“The Fiducie does a wonderful job, it moves very quickly and gets things done. It’s an amazing foundation and you couldn’t really help but support it.

“They are doing a lot of positive things all the time when it comes to the facets of rebuilding people’s lives,” Kenny added during a Christmas fundraiser. “It’s not a problem, it’s a privilege.”

As Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien had just walked through the new residence next to Beggars Bush, Father McVerry questioned whether the government’s commitment to provide 1,200 ‘Housing First’ rentals in over the next five years for people with a history of sleeping or long-term emergency accommodation use was “ambitious or achievable.”

On the much less important football front, Kenny provided updates on Jamie McGrath’s hip injury, the illness of Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhín Kelleher and Troy Parrott. All three are ‘okay’ ahead of Portugal’s vital World Cup qualifier in Dublin on Thursday week before Ireland’s final Group A match in Luxembourg on November 14.

Kenny’s side are out of the question, almost since the loss to Luxembourg at an empty Aviva stadium last March, so the two sides fight for a third place as Portugal v Serbia in Lisbon on the same evening, will decide which nation wins the automatic qualification for Qatar 2022. Unless Ireland spoils Portugal’s campaign with a sold-out Aviva.

Robbie Brady’s lack of playing time since signing for Bournemouth means a recall to the international ranks has come too soon for the 29-year-old.

“Robbie is getting into tune,” Kenny said. “It’s not realistic for him to be involved in this camp, he hasn’t really played or played since last season.

“There’s no reason Robbie can’t play football on a regular basis and be a big part of our future because he’s a talented player who can play in multiple positions.

“He went from a situation where he was probably number one on the roster and possibly Ireland’s best player to one where he was out of contract and without a club. It may seem dramatic at first glance but he would have been a good signing for any club and will be a good signing for Bournemouth.

Despite being called an “Irish Pirlo” after orchestrating victories against Azerbaijan and Qatar, Jeff Hendrick’s inability to play a single minute for Newcastle United last month shouldn’t stop him from being selected in the Irish midfielder alongside Josh Cullen.

“Jeff has been really great the last two games. To be fair, since coming back at the start of this season he has rediscovered his form so I think he probably won’t play for Newcastle is based on his form from last season which has continued and what ‘he didn’t have an opportunity.

“He lost his form when he went there initially. It was, but he took care of it and understood himself and for us.

“He’s probably one of the few players who, you know everyone needs to be in good physical shape and you have to play games and so on, but stamina isn’t a problem for him. He seems to be playing 90 minutes even though he hasn’t played. He is very conscious of his diet, the way he trains and the application to his training is really excellent. This is what helps him in the last camp, he was able to play comfortably two 90 minutes. It is to his credit. “


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