Stephen Kenny: 'My instinct is that is not going to happen' - Republic boss downbeat on future

Stephen Kenny waves to the crowd
An emotional Stephen Kenny was downbeat about his future as Republic of Ireland manager after Tuesday's 1-1 draw at home to New Zealand

An emotional Stephen Kenny said his instinct is he won't be offered a new contract as Republic of Ireland manager by the Football Association of Ireland.

Pressure has been mounting on Kenny after a poor Euro 2024 qualifying campaign in which the Republic's only two wins came against Gibraltar.

Kenny said he would "respect" whatever decision the FAI makes on his future.

"It would be a dream to carry on but my instinct is that is not going to happen," Kenny said.

Speaking after Tuesday's 1-1 draw with New Zealand in Dublin, Kenny added: "That's my own instinct and the evidence would suggest it's not going to happen.

"Obviously the board are meeting next week. They have a decision to make and I respect whatever that decision is."

Since being appointed as manager in 2020, Kenny had been building towards the Euro 2024 qualifiers and they were handed a difficult group alongside France and the Netherlands.

While automatic qualification was always going to be a long shot, there was still hope for the play-offs but a poor Nations League campaign put Kenny's side on the back foot and, while losses to the French and Dutch were expected, two defeats by Greece ended their hopes.

The Republic's only two wins of the campaign came against minnows Gibraltar, leaving his record standing at just six victories in his 29 competitive games in charge.

Tuesday's friendly draw with New Zealand, ranked 103rd in the world, was another disappointment and Kenny applauded the fans in what was likely to be his final lap of honour as manager.

"From my point of view, there is no greater honour than managing your country," Kenny, 52, said, adding that the support had been "magnificent".

"It's a huge privilege and it was an emotional dressing room with the players there.

"There is so many great people there. Whatever you do in life, it will be a step down. No matter what you do. But that's the way it is.

"I've always been a big picture person. You have to see what the picture is and see what you can achieve or obtained and be worked towards.

"When you do that and you set the bar high, your fall can be acute. That's the nature of how I have always managed, really.

"It leads you to incredible highs and setbacks. That's how I see things.

"I don't mean that as some badge of honour. You can only be true to yourself."

'Football is ruthless'

Despite the disappointing results during his tenure, Kenny has often pointed to the fact he has been rebuilding the team and the Dubliner handed out 24 competitive debuts during his reign.

"I think 90% or 95% of the players, their careers are on an upward trajectory and they are only going to improve," he added.

"We have had a lot of setbacks and international football is ruthless. That's the nature of it.

"I know that and I understood that. That's the way I look at it.

"I think people speculated I was one game away [from being sacked] a few times. That could have been the case, I don't know.

"It did feel like that sometimes, but in the inner sanctum of the dressing room it was never so.

"Honestly, when I review the last 18 months and I had eight or nine players in League One and I was at a lot of League One games.

"Now we've seven or eight in the Premier League and I feel that will improve again.

"I feel the squad, in League B of the Nations League next year, with the experience they have now will equip themselves very well and that's how I see it."

With the on-pitch performances and by his own admissions, it seems more and more likely Kenny will not be the man to take the team forward and help it grow into the "big picture" he had envisioned.