Matt Doherty backs under fire Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny

By Sports Desk June 17, 2023

Matt Doherty has leapt to the defence of Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny after their Euro 2024 qualifying defeat in Greece thrust him into the firing line once again.

A 2-1 reverse at the OPAP Arena in Athens left Ireland without a point from their opening two fixtures and knowing their chances of escaping a group, which also includes World Cup runners-up France and traditional European superpower the Netherlands, have receded dramatically.

Kenny once again finds himself under intense pressure as a result, but asked if he was still the right man for the job, Doherty said: “Of course. We are prepared unbelievably well, they do everything for us.

“I was just saying behind the scenes, the staff, the manager, (assistant managers) Keith (Andrews), Sheasy (John O’Shea), Deano (goalkeeping coach Dean Kiely), for me they are absolutely the right people.

“I don’t even know if there is speculation, is there?”

When informed that there was, he added: “For me, that shouldn’t be the case. The are absolutely the right people for the job. Nobody can prepare us as well as they have and will continue to do.”

Kenny and his players had spent nine days in Turkey preparing for a game which was always going to be key to their qualification hopes, although all the work they did was blown out of the water in Athens by collective and individual under-performance and costly mistakes.

Doherty said: “Zero excuses. Everything was laid out for us, the way to beat them and we just didn’t play well.”

The former Tottenham and Atletico Madrid full-back’s night ended in particularly-disappointing fashion when he was sent off in stoppage time for a push on Liverpool’s Kostas Tsimikas amid a bad-tempered scuffle.

He said: “I don’t really know what happened. I thought I walked into him with my chest. I don’t known if it was a red card.”

Doherty will be suspended for Monday night’s clash with Gibraltar in Dublin as a result, but in the longer term, is seeking a new club after leaving Atletico Madrid as a free agent after a difficult spell in Spain during the second half of last season.

He said: “I really enjoyed it, great set of lads, good changing room, a different experience completely.

“Obviously I didn’t play anywhere near the number of games I wanted to, but the experience – it was worth the six months.

“My family is in England and I’d like to go back to my family, but I am not opposed to any kind of challenge wherever that is.”

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