Stephen Hunt: The next two games will decide Stephen Kenny’s fate

Stephen Hunt talks all things Ireland, Stephen Kenny, & Vera Pauw.


France & The Netherlands

Let’s not kid ourselves. It’s going to be very difficult to get two big results on Thursday in Paris and Sunday night at the Aviva. At the same time, I believe we’re very capable of winning one of these games.

Four points would be a dream result as things stand but we’re capable of getting them.

We’ve shown good signs of really good quality in possession under Irish manager, Stephen Kenny.

Finding that winning formula will be the key now for Stephen to end the group on a high.

I often compare Ireland when Stephen took over to how Wales were a few years ago. They were at a real low and so were we.

Wales have obviously qualified for the Euros and a World Cup since then, but our results haven’t been as positive as the Irish fans would have wanted them to be – that’s obvious. But we had to go through this period of change to make progress.

We had to suffer a little bit.

The outline of what Stephen Kenny set out to do has been positive. Hopefully he sticks to this approach – which he has done to date – despite the pressure to get results. That’s a good sign of a manager in terms of his philosophy of how the game should be played

He knows he needs results now though.

We’ve got big games coming up to try and finish strongly and Stephen Kenny knows if he doesn’t get results the picture is fairly clear going forward.


The Women’s World Cup was brilliant but I was left a little bit frustrated by Ireland’s effort. I felt there was more to come from the team but nothing panned out right for the now ex Irish manager, Vera Pauw, either.

Her departure wasn’t fair  –  she was the first coach to get us to the Women’s World Cup finals.

I know there was a lot going on behind the scenes but on results alone she should probably have been kept on. But that’s football, only the people behind the scenes in the FAI know exactly what went on. They’ve taken the decision to change the manager and whoever gets the job has a lot to build on.

Hand of Odd 

With our game in Paris on Thursday, the chat inevitably turns to our play-off game in 2009 and the Thierry Henry handball incident.

You almost feel more betrayed by it as time goes by.

I had to share a jet home with former France and Man United defender Patrice Evra afterwards and he was almost embarrassed sitting opposite us. Ireland had been robbed of a fair chance to qualifying for the World Cup finals with the game finally balanced at 1-1.

We’re still bitter about it, saddened by the situation. The lads now though won’t carry any scar tissue from that game. None were involved. Seamus Coleman might’ve been around or on the edge of the team. Sure there were sour grapes, but you have to get over it.

I haven’t met Thierry Henry since. Though I’d have some cheek if I said anything to him about it, based on the glittering career he had.

Maybe it’s a good thing I haven’t as knowing how I behave around people, I’d have to put a gag on it.


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