ANALYSIS: Kenny must compromise his principles to survive

Alan O’Brien 

When Giovanni Trapattoni first assumed the Republic of Ireland reins in 2008, much was made of the Italian’s legendary focus on football’s “little details”, manna from heaven for an Irish faithful weary of Steve Staunton’s rank amateurism. Not even the simple act of defending a throw-in, allegedly practised ad nauseum in pre-match training sessions, escaped Trapattoni’s obsessive eye. The message was simple: there is no grand ideology; ultra-pragmatism and attention to detail will win the day.

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ANALYSIS: Kenny’s vision of McCarthy is a mirage

Alan O’Brien 

Not being all-in on Stephen Kenny can be seen as a kind of heresy around these parts. The new Republic of Ireland manager’s unashamed idealism and refreshing candour have won over almost the entire Irish football community, with the possible exception of a smattering of skeptical ex-pros, whose company I’m not particularly thrilled to keep. But this writer has long met many of Kenny’s public pronouncements with an uneasy mixture of bemusement and concern. And none had me scratching my head more vigourously than Kenny’s eye-opening comments about James McCarthy earlier in the week. Continue reading

COMMENT: Much-maligned McCarthy is no idealist…and that’s a good thing

Alan O’Brien 

“Two old farts who know nothing about the game, eh?” So spoke Mick McCarthy back in August of 2017, shortly after his Ipswich Town side had maintained their perfect start to yet another arduous Championship campaign. Level on points at the summit with Neil Warnock’s Cardiff City, McCarthy couldn’t resist the opportunity to needle at his detractors in typically wry fashion. Four straight wins had earned him the right, in his eyes, to fire another bullet at disgruntled Portman Road attendees, many of whom had long grown weary of his not particularly eye-catching brand of football. Continue reading

ANALYSIS: Lucky Lilywhites have it all to do in Larnaca

Alan O’Brien 

Shorn of five first-teamers, AEK Larnaca still won the tactical battle against hosts Dundalk. Playing with a heavily depleted deck, novice manager Andoni Iraola outmatched Stephen Kenny on his first night in football management. Level ahead of Thursday’s second leg in Cyprus, the Lilywhites will struggle to succeed where Cork City have failed before them. Continue reading

Deja vu for Dundalk as Caulfield’s Cork impose their will again

Alan O’Brien 

When it comes to Cork City’s storied rivalry with Dundalk, there is nothing new under the sun. Friday’s latest chapter was almost a shot-for-shot rerun of the sides’ last Turner’s Cross engagement. The Lilywhites grabbed an unmerited point on that September occasion, thanks to a late Robbie Benson leveler.  Alas for Stephen Kenny, that was precisely where this tedious remake deviated from the original. Continue reading

Analysis: Dundalk fail to beat Cork at their own game

Alan O’Brien 

Much like the celebratory title bubbly, still frustratingly iced tonight, Dundalk were Corked here. Stephen Kenny’s side tried, and failed, to beat the Leesiders at their own game. In the end, a scantly-deserved point proved a fortunate, but probably meaningless, outcome. Continue reading