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Friday 20 September 2019

Kenny's call for public to pack out Tallaght

Stephen Kenny
Stephen Kenny

Stephen Kenny wants the Irish public to pack out Tallaght Stadium on October 10 when his high-flying Under-21s host Italy in a crunch Euro qualifier.

Never before has an Irish team reached a major tournament at Under-21 level but the 2021 finals in Slovenia and Hungary got that bit closer with Tuesday's win over Sweden.

The 3-1 triumph in Kalmar was Ireland's third straight win of the campaign, all the more significant coming away to the second seeds.

Sweden's hopes of securing an eight successive top-two finish have been rattled by Ireland's rise under Kenny.

The runner-up will at least clinch a play-off to qualify, possibly directly if they accrue the most points across the nine pools.

Italy have lifted the trophy five times and should bring with them to Dublin a cast of stars.

Moise Kean, Patrick Cutrone and Manuel Locatelli were just a trio of tyros namechecked by Kenny. They comfortably won their opener on Tuesday, beating Luxembourg 5-0 in Castel di Sangro.

When Kenny was appointed to the Under-21 post in November, armed with a guarantee of succeeding Mick McCarthy in the senior role, full houses for home matches was one of his stated objectives. His first game, the qualifier against Luxembourg in March, attracted the biggest crowd for an Under-21 match since 1995. A total of 4,772 turned out to see the Boys in Green record a resounding 3-0 victory.

Last week's turnout for the visit for Armenia was down on that figure. That the Friday night match clashed with League of Ireland and FAI Cup matches didn't help as 3,659 were in Tallaght.

With the recent derby between Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians pulling in a record crowd of over 7,000, the hope is that a similar turnout materialises for this fixture.

The senior squad have no home game over that international window and the Thursday game is a free date.

"I'm sure the Irish football public will want to see that match," said Kenny today.

"Italy have a number of high-profile players. We've seen their strikers Moise Kean and Patrick Cutrone join Everton and Wolves respectively this summer for significant fees. The transfer value of the squad would be over €100m.

"They are a good side but we won't be taking a step back for any team.

"Beating Sweden was an excellent result because it sets us up nicely going into next month's matches against Italy and away to Iceland."

McCarthy has indicated that he has no plans to extract any of Kenny's budding stars.

The clamour of Troy Parrott's elevation escalated on the back of his brace from the bench against the Swedes. It followed the Tottenham Hotspur teen marking his Under-21 debut with the winner against Armenia.

Aaron Connolly, who delivered another scintillating display on the left wing, is another in contention to be promoted but the senior boss is content to allow his successor possess his strongest hand for the qualifiers.

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