FAI hopeful Ireland play-off to take place in November

Sun, Apr 05 2020

FAI HQ in Abbotstown Credit: Martin Doherty (ETPhotos)

The FAI are hopeful rather than certain that Ireland's crucial Eurpean Championship play-off semi final against Slovakia will take place in November - a game which will now be overseen by former Ireland U21 manager and now senior manager Stephen Kenny.

Interim CEO Gary Owens was speaking after this weekend’s confirmed managerial change. He told FAI TV that the later the play-offs get played the better as it will allow Kenny and his new backroom team to prepare as best as they can for such an important game and also familiarize themselves with the surrounds of senior international football.

"I'd like the play-off as late as we can,” Owens said. "We have been trying to get the game for the November series, rather than in September or October. This would give Stephen and his team the chance to play some friendlies and to get a few Nations League matches under theiir belts in advance of the Slovakia game.”

The winner of this long awaited play-off semi-final will take on either Bosnia or Michael O'Neills Northern Ireland. The play-off was also originally scheduled to take place in March but has been postponed indefinetely due to COVID-19.

"It's going to be a very busy and exciting time. You're going to have nine matches in the Autumn, followed by the World Cup [Qualifiers] next year."

Senior international management is new for Kenny but he has done a stellar job with the Under 21 side earning rave reviews under his watch and it is widely expected that a selection of the players he has worked with at that level will now be promoted to the senior squad.

Among the front runners are Millwall midfielder Jayson Molumby, Tottenham striker Troy Parrott, Norwich attacker Adam Idah and Brighton's Aaron Connolly.