Thursday 23 January 2020

Stephen's not happy with haul

Stephen Kenny. Photo: Sportsfile
Stephen Kenny. Photo: Sportsfile

The FAI's financial crisis has forced Ireland's Under-21s to take five scheduled flights for their upcoming pair of Euro qualifiers, a situation manager Stephen Kenny is detrimental to his preparations.

Kenny's table-toppers visit Armenia on Thursday week before a swift turnaround for the meeting with second seeds Sweden at Tallaght Stadium on November 19.

The 22-man squad and staff must navigate a three-leg journey to Yerevan and return on a circuitous route via Moscow.

Several European U-21 teams such as England and Germany are afforded direct charter planes for long treks but for the FAI's current financial problems rule that option out.

Mick McCarthy's senior squad travel to all away games by private jet and Kenny became accustomed to that mode for European assignments in his previous role as Dundalk manager.


"Resources are very, very tight within the association - particularly at U-21 level," said Kenny yesterday when naming his squad for the double-header.

"We're consistently reminded of that. The reality is that chartering a plane would blow the whole year's budget.

"Getting three flights out to Armenia and two back before playing Sweden is not good preparation; it's not good at all."

"It's a busy window for us because we go London, Kiev, Yerevan. That's 10 hours of travelling on Monday so we can't train that day.

"There won't be much time to prepare for the Thursday game once we get over there. I think it's a big challenge for us."

Another challenge is the loss of Troy Parrott to the senior squad and injury-enforced absences of Darragh Leahy and Jonathan Afolabi. Lee O'Connor and skipper Jayson Molumby are suspended for the Armenia test.

"We'll be without six players from the team that beat Sweden in September," lamented Kenny.

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