Former Cork City boss John Cotter believes Stephen Kenny has the pedigree to shine as Ireland manager

Former Cork City boss John Cotter believes Stephen Kenny has the pedigree to shine as Ireland manager
John Cotter played for Cork City before going on to become John Caulfield's assistant and then manage the club. He's now at Waterford and knows Stephen Kenny's class for his time at the helm of Dundalk. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

HAVING spent years building up a rivalry with Stephen Kenny, former Cork City boss John Cotter hopes that Kenny will be as successful as the new Ireland manager as he was as Dundalk boss.

Kenny was announced as Ireland manager last week — earlier than expected — after it emerged that the 2020 European Championship would be postponed for a year. Cotter believes it was the correct decision to give Kenny the job now.

“Stephen getting the job will generate a lot of interest,” Cotter said. “League of Ireland supporters will appreciate just how good a manager he is.

“People may only remember him for the excellent job he did at Dundalk, where they won numerous trophies and achieved so much in Europe, but people shouldn’t forget the jobs he did during his time as Longford, Bohemians, and Derry City manager."

When working alongside John Caulfield, Cotter's Cork City team went toe to toe with Dundalk for major trophies.

John Caulfield with Lisa Lawlor, John Cotter and Liam Kearney before a Cork City game against Cobh. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
John Caulfield with Lisa Lawlor, John Cotter and Liam Kearney before a Cork City game against Cobh. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

“Of course, we had a great rivalry with Stephen’s Dundalk team and I don’t think he gets enough credit for what he achieved.

“He lost a lot of players to the United Kingdom, players like Richie Towell, Patrick Hoban, and Daryl Horgan, but always managed to find a replacement.

“He certainly has an eye for a player. I hope that he succeeds because he deserves it,” Cotter said.

“In an ideal world, everything would have gone to plan and Stephen would have taken over from Mick McCarthy after the Euros, but what has happened in the world has changed everything, so a decision had to be taken and I believe the right one was made. This way, he has more time to work with the squad and get his ideas into place.”

Kenny has not kept Robbie Keane on the senior coaching staff, opting instead for Keith Andrews and Damien Duff. Having gotten to know Keane, Andrews, and Duff during his time with them on the UEFA Pro Licence course, Cotter believes that the Ireland manager has the right men at his side.

“Robbie was part of McCarthy’s staff and Stephen probably thinks it’s a good idea to just have a fresh start. Every manager has the right to bring in their own coaching staff.

“Keane has had a fantastic playing career and now has the experience of working with Ireland as a coach and still works with Middlesbrough.

“Obviously, Stephen knows Keith from their time together with the U21s and they have developed a good relationship.

“Keith was very impressive on the course and has a great knowledge of the game, so I think it was a good choice for Stephen to promote Keith.

“Duff had a successful playing career with Blackburn, Chelsea, Newcastle, and Fulham, which will give him instant respect. On the course, Duff was always the standout participant. His attention to detail is excellent. 

"His presentations were always impressive. He was always the person we turned to put on a training session when we visited other countries.

“Duff was even generous enough to organise to bring the group to Celtic’s training ground for a few days, where we got to witness the role he plays in Celtic and just how much he is respected there.

“Stephen actually sat in and watched a few of our sessions and presentations, so I’m guessing he would have been very impressed by what he saw of Duff as a coach during those days.”

After spending several successful years as part of the coaching staff at Cork City, Cotter was saddened by how he left, but he holds no grudge.

He now works alongside a former City colleague, Alan Reynolds, with Waterford, a challenge the former Avondale manager was enjoying until the suspension of the league.

“I had some wonderful years with City. Winning the FAI Cup, and then the double the following season, are obviously the standout moments, but the friendships I made with the staff were also something I will look back on my time with City fondly.

“I was disappointed the way I left the club, after all the success that I had experienced there, but have no ill-feeling towards the club.

“I was at all of the remaining home games last season, after vacating my role, and will always be a supporter of the club. Getting back into football was important for me and when the opportunity to work with Rennie (below) came up at Waterford, it was an easy decision to go there.

“There is a great group of players there. Everyone is very welcoming and the facilities are among the best in the country. It’s just a pity what has happened with Covid-19 that we have had to stop because I felt we were just starting to get a bit of momentum going.

“It is going to be tough to get the league going again on June 19, but a decision will have to be made again, soon, about what the next steps are.

“Games behind closed doors are fine for a few weeks, but clubs won’t be able to survive too long playing behind closed doors, as they will lose out on the revenue from gate receipts, merchandise sales, sponsorship, and advertising.”

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