Richard Dunne Previews Ireland’s Upcoming Euro 2024 Qualifiers
Here at BoyleSports we caught up with Richard Dunne who previewed Ireland’s upcoming Euro 2024 qualifiers.
The Republic of Ireland will play Greece at home in the Aviva Stadium this Friday night before travelling to Portugal to take on Gibraltar on Monday.
These are absolutely crucial matches, not just for Ireland’s slim qualification hopes, but for Stephen Kenny and his management team.
Former Ireland stalwart Richard Dunne gave us his predictions for the big games along with his assessment on the current state of Irish football and Stephen Kenny’s suitability as Irish manager.
Richard Dunne’s Rep. of Ireland v Greece & Gibraltar Predictions
I’m hoping for two Irish victories in the international break!
Rep of. Ireland v Gibraltar Preview
The Gibraltar game is certainly one Ireland should be looking at as Gibraltar haven’t picked up any points and aren’t a side who are historically successful.
You’d think that’ll be an easy win, but no games are. I’d say it’s a must-win.
Rep. of Ireland v Greece Preview
The Greece game is much bigger, though, and the away loss to them was probably the only real disappointment of the qualifying campaign so far, especially after such a long period of preparation. Ireland just didn’t perform on the night!
I’m sure the players will be looking to rectify that and get a couple of points to climb up the table. I’d say Ireland have done well in the group, to be fair, and they’ve managed the games well. It won’t be easy, but I think for Ireland’s progression, they have to win.
I’d go for Ireland to beat Greece 2-0 at home and 3-0 away at Gibraltar.
Group Chances Gone But Ireland Could Get Through A Play-Off
I think the French and Dutch teams are too far ahead of Ireland, but I still think there’s a way that Ireland can get there through a play-off.
The one thing Ireland wanted in this qualifying campaign was to get to the final couple of games while still having a chance, and that’s been a major disappointment.
I don’t think it’s going to happen for Ireland. A lot of European teams who normally lose a lot of games are now winning them, so I’m hoping Ireland can sneak a play-off place.
The aim now has to be finishing third, and we can do that with a victory over Greece next week.
Stick or Twist For The FAI?
I think the FAI will have to look back on the campaign that Stephen had with the Euros, Nations League, and World Cup games, and see if there has been any improvement.
We’re always hearing about young players making their debuts, but that’s not a surprise because players come and go, players lose form, and so on. For all that’s worth, that’s not down to Stephen Kenny and his coaching staff, it’s down to players’ development and being ready for senior football.
I don’t think the FAI look at the amount of debuts Kenny has given as a sign of progress, they’ll look at the results. If they think Ireland are moving forward and the next qualifying campaign looks like a certain success, then they’ll keep Stephen Kenny.
Right now, though, Ireland look nowhere near competing for the top-two places in groups. They’ll have to change if that continues.
Dunne On Prospect of Kenny Remaining If Ireland Don’t Qualify
I wouldn’t be massively optimistic if Ireland missed out on Euro 2024 and Kenny was kept on, and that’s based on the results. I would, however, add that Kenny was dealt a short hand with the opposition in this group.
It was always going to be hard with the likes of France and Holland there. Ireland, historically, haven’t been a side that regularly qualifies for major tournaments, but they’ve always competed and been in play-offs. That’s the disappointment – to see Ireland falling away so much.
I don’t know if I see Ireland qualifying for the next tournament with Kenny in charge, but I don’t think so. I think there would be optimism if Ireland had someone else in.
Someone who gave the side a little bit more of a pragmatic approach. It’s not always about playing nice football, it’s about competing with the bigger sides and threatening them.
Pragmatic Style A Necessary Evil For Ireland?
Pragmatic football is always a compromise. A club manager has a lot more time to develop a philosophy, but international managers don’t have that luxury and it becomes about getting results. That’s the biggest difference between the two.
It doesn’t mean managers should stray away from playing nice football, but it does mean you have to entertain the fans and get them out of their seats.
The football may look end-to-end at times, but at least you have a base to build from if things aren’t going well. You need players to rely on, and you try not to lose 50-50 games.
I don’t think there’s been enough of that in the Irish team over the last few years.
Celtic’s Liam Scales Should Be Starting
I agree with Packie Bonner. Liam Scales should start. I’ve seen him play in the two Champions League games this season and he performed really well in both.
I’d say that Ireland are really strong in the centre-half department with the likes of O’Shea, Egan, Collins, Shane Duffy, and so on. They’ve all done really-well and there’s competition there.
I’d say Scales is very close to selection, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was given the opportunity in the upcoming games.
Evan Ferguson Not Ready For Big Move Just Yet
I’m sure Evan Ferguson would be delighted at the thought of playing for Liverpool and Manchester United as most Irish boys would dream of that! I think it’ll happen for him in the future, but he’s still learning his trade at the moment at Brighton.
He’s in for some games, rested for others, and is still developing as a player. I’m sure Brighton will help him move on when he feels the time is right. He’ll have the pick of all the top clubs when he does!
You rarely get young players as versatile as him. I think it’s too soon for him at the moment, but it won’t be long before it’s time to move on.
Evan Ferguson To Man City?
Manchester City are a very stable club. They’re European champions and they’ll be expected to challenge for the major trophies every season.
I think any player, including Ferguson, would love that environment. I’m sure Evan would get a lot of minutes at City considering how many games they play.
On the other hand, we have to consider that Haaland would still play in the biggest games. He’s probably the best striker in the world right now, and it’ll be up to Evan to decide whether he’s ok with that or not.
I’m sure Manchester City would help him develop even further, and he’d be guaranteed trophies there.
I would be delighted if Evan Ferguson went to City! I’d be thrilled for him and his family if he went there.
It would be a good move for him, and I’m sure all of the Irish fans would agree.
Young Irish Talents On The Radar
There are a few underage Irish players that should be on the radar of the big Premier League sides.
Mason Meila is doing well at St. Patrick’s, and so is Michael Noonan at St Patrick’s, and Rovers also have some talented players coming through.
There are a lot of talented kids, it’s just a matter of getting the opportunity to play first-team football. I think the biggest difference is the Irish system doesn’t offer scholarships the same way kids at English clubs do.
I think that’s something the FAI should look at. The players need to get out there and get that experience elsewhere.
FAI Need To Take A Look At Underage System
The development of young players is something Ireland needs to take care of, especially since Brexit. The League of Ireland Clubs don’t have the finances to create scholarship programs, and that’s massively important for the future of the game.
Ireland needs to make sure that brilliant young players are turned into seasoned international ones.
International Eligibility System Needs To Be Looked At
I’d say the system probably needs to be looked at.
It’s one thing if a player in the U18s or U21s decides to re-examine their future, but once a player has played a few senior games and has stood there listening to the national anthem, a player should know where their heart is.
We’ve seen players sing the Irish national anthem one week, but sing the English one the next!
I don’t think that’s the way it should be looked at, and that goes for all countries. Players should be capable of deciding where they want to play.
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