Stephen Kenny is thinking only of the Republic of Ireland’s final Euro 2024 qualifier in the Netherlands after avoiding a potential banana skin against Gibraltar.
Monday evening’s 4-0 win over Group B’s basement boys handed Ireland just a second victory in seven attempts in qualification, and they will head for Amsterdam next month to face a Dutch side still to secure a place at next summer’s finals.
That game and the friendly against New Zealand which follows it seem likely to be Kenny’s last at the helm, with his contract due to expire at the end of the campaign.
However, asked after the victory at the Estadio Algarve if that would be it for him, Kenny said: “That’s out of my control, I can’t affect that. For me, I’ve got to try and get a result in Amsterdam.
“It’s a big game. Holland need to win to qualify. They will be flying. We’ve got to put a performance in against Holland in Amsterdam. It’s a big challenge, it’s one we are looking forward to. Out of that, it’s out of my control.
“I honestly don’t know. It may well be. I’ll give it everything against Holland and New Zealand. There’s no doubt, of course I want to be the manager of Ireland. It’s brilliant.”
Kenny has found himself under intense pressure since Friday night’s 2-0 home defeat by Greece – who also won the reverse fixture in Athens 2-1 – which ended Ireland’s hopes of automatic qualification.
The 51-year-old, who insisted before the game that he was not considering resigning, said: “I understand the Greek results, I understand that. Losing to Greece, that’s a 50-50 game. We lost it. There’s a lot of criticism because of that.
“That’s OK. There’s also been a lot of good football that people shouldn’t forget either.”
Evan Ferguson’s early strike set Kenny’s men on their way in Faro before Mikey Johnston made it 2-0 at the break, and second-half strikes from Matt Doherty and substitute Callum Robinson completed a win which was every bit as regulation as it should have been against a side who have now played 44 Euro and World Cup qualifiers and are yet to collect a point.
The manager was delighted with the way his players responded to the defeat by the Greeks.
He said: “We’re disappointed having lost the game on Friday. To put that behind them and to train and get themselves ready in a professional way and then work the openings for the goals in a very clever way, it made the finishes easier.
“The players deserve credit because it was a professional job on the night, a good performance. We could have got a lot more goals.”
Kenny was particularly pleased with Celtic winger Johnston’s contribution as he claimed a second senior international goal on his first start for his country.
He said: “Mikey Johnston, he needs games. The tempo of that game isn’t Greece and Holland. He is a talent, he will be a good player for Ireland.”