The Republic of Ireland Soccer Supporters Club (London) hosted it’s 14th Annual Charity Quiz Event at the Claddagh Ring in Hendon on Friday evening where our special guest was newly appointed Ireland U21 manager Stephen Kenny. The Dubliner enters the international stage having presided over a magnificent body of work with Irish clubs during the past twenty years.
The then twenty seven year old Stephen Kenny took the managerial reins at a struggling First Division side Longford Town and during his three year tenure he led the Midlands club to the Premier Division and also reached an FAI Cup Final. Stephen left the Midlands to take the reins at a then struggling Bohemian, back in his native Dublin. His influence revived the club and they moved steadily upward and reached the FAI Cup Final. Bohemian won the League Title in the next season and finished as runners-up the following season. Stephen parted company with Bohemian in July 2004 and just three weeks later took the reins at Derry City.
Under his guidance, the ‘Candystripes’ finished as runners-up in the 2005 Premier Division which gained them entry to the UEFA Cup where they were a revelation. Two time winners IFK Goteborg were defeated by one goal to nil in both legs of the first qualifying round and Scottish representatives Gretna were then dispatched on an aggregate seven three score line in the second qualifying round. Derry faced the might of Paris St-Germain in the first round proper and held them to a scoreless draw in the Brandywell, before exiting the competition with a two nil defeat in Paris. Derry City missed out on the Premier Division to Shelbourne on goal difference in 2006 but lifted the FAI Cup with victory over St Patrick’s Athletic. The club also lifted the League Cup in 2005 and 2006.
In the midst of the FAI Cup success, Stephen was lured to Scottish club Dunfermline Athletic whom he led to the 2007 Scottish Cup Final where they lost by the only goal to Glasgow Celtic. The ‘Pars’ had defeated Glasgow Rangers, Heart of Midlothian and Hibernian on route to the final. There was disappointment however as, despite a late surge, the club suffered relegation. Stephen left the club in December 2007 and returned to Derry City for his second spell later that month.
The Derry City that Stephen re-joined was in a degree of turmoil and suffered relegation after entering administration. He returned them to the top flight by winning the First Division title and also lifted the League Cup on two occasions during his tenure. Stephen left Derry in December 2011 to join Shamrock Rovers back in Dublin. His spell with the ‘Hoops’ proved disappointing and he lost his job in September 2012.
Two months later, in November 2012, Stephen joined Dundalk where he instigated a huge culture change through astute recruitment leading to the unprecedented success the club has enjoyed over the past five seasons. Four League of Ireland Premier Division titles, two FAI Cup successes, two League Cup victories have been achieved during this period. The club also enjoyed huge success in Europe, highlighted by some significant results. A three one Champions League aggregate success over BATE Borisov caught the eye as indeed did their exploits in the Europa League group stage where they held Dutch side AZ Alkmaar to a scoreless draw in Holland and defeated Maccabi Tel Aviv by one goal to nil in Dublin.
Stephen was appointed Ireland U21 manager on the 25th November 2018 and it was also announced that he would succeed senior manager Mick McCarthy, also appointed that day, in the summer of 2020.
At the Claddagh Ring on Friday evening Stephen talked us through his playing and managerial career including his U15 encounters with a certain Roy Keane and his trial period at the then English First Division side Oxford United, who included John Aldridge, Ray Houghton and David Langan in their ranks.
Stephen provided a spellbound audience with his thoughts and vision of how football should be played, as exemplified by his Dundalk team, and confirmed that it was his intention to pursue a similar style with his new Ireland U21 and subsequent senior sides.
Invigorated by our special guest, Michael and his team performed in their own unique style as they steered the Charity Quiz Ship to a successful conclusion. The ‘Mac’ duo of Mark McCoy and Peter McGarry emerged victorious and received their winning trophies from our wonderful guest Stephen Kenny.
Our Event, with the contributions of our generous Sponsors, our various raffles and member donations together with the magnificent contribution made by our host Finbar, generated €6,500, which will be distributed equally between our two nominated charities – Acquired Brain Injury Ireland and Cystic Fibrosis Ireland.