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Thursday 14 November 2019

Connolly: I feel relaxed under Kenny

HAPPY: The Republic of Ireland’s Aaron Connolly in action against Erjanik Ghubasaryan of
Armenia during their Euro U21 2021 qualifier at Tallaght Stadium. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
HAPPY: The Republic of Ireland’s Aaron Connolly in action against Erjanik Ghubasaryan of Armenia during their Euro U21 2021 qualifier at Tallaght Stadium. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Brighton prospect Aaron Connolly hopes that the success of the Ireland U21 side right now can carry on to the senior stage next year when Stephen Kenny takes charge.

Kenny's squad headed for Sweden to prepare for tomorrow's Euro 2021 qualifier, in Kalmar, with confidence high, two wins out of two games for the Republic thanks to Friday's 1-0 defeat of Armenia.

Ireland won their first two qualifiers in the last two campaigns and did not qualify so Kenny will stress to his side that, with Italy expected to win the group and Sweden a threat, the road ahead is long.

Galway native Connolly is having a good spell in his career as he has scored his first goal and also made his Premier League debut for Brighton as well as playing a role in the win over Armenia.

He says playing under Kenny is a pleasure and wants that to continue when, according to the FAI's succession plan, Kenny takes over from Mick McCarthy next summer.

"We are probably all thinking that he will go into the job next year but for now we are just trying to produce our best for Stephen for the 21s, to help him to achieve what he wants with the 21s before going to the first team job to well there," Connolly said.

"Hopefully we can all be a part of that. Hopefully he likes us and we can get this group back together but at senior international level,

"Stephen is a great man manager. He looks after everybody, makes you feel at home straight away.

"My first U21 camp was Toulon but I felt as if I had been there a year after the first day, Stephen just makes you feel so welcome.

"And when the international break is over, he gives you a call to see how you are doing and then just before the new one starts, he gives you another one to see how you are doing and to talk about how the camp is going to go and all of that.

"I think everyone is enjoying playing under him and we are all looking forward to Sweden tomorrow," he added.

"He just gives you the freedom to express yourself as long as you work hard to get back in and recover the ball. And the times it does come off he praises you so yeah, he gives you that freedom.

"Everyone wants that in a manager, rather than one who puts you under pressure. If you are going to take on someone, go one on one with your man, you don't want that sort of pressure, I don't anyone does really so it's good to be playing under a manager like that. Long may it continue," Connolly said.

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