Belfast Telegraph

Stephen Kenny is home with high expectations

By Daniel McDonnell

Stephen Kenny's managerial career has taken him around the country and even to Scotland, but yesterday he returned home.

The 40-year-old's appointment as the new manager of Shamrock Rovers had been long flagged, but after inking his three-year contract and meeting the press and fans for the first time, the Tallaght native could finally get to work on continuing the success that his old neighbours have become accustomed to in Dublin 24.

It was four years to the day that Kenny was unveiled at Derry City for the second time and he admitted that he never thought he would leave a club who had embraced him as warmly as he had it — even sticking with the Candystripes through their ignominious relegation at the end of the 2009 season.

But the chance to take over at Rovers was too enticing to turn down. Champions of the last two years, European football and close to home, Hoops supremo Jonathan Roche made Kenny an offer he couldn't refuse.

“It is the biggest club in the country at the moment. As a coach and as a manager, you want to be the best you can be, be as successful as you can be and that's my objective,” said Kenny, who spoke evocatively of captaining his Old Bawn Community School team on the playing fields where Tallaght Stadium was eventually built.

“I have great affinity with the area and my expectation is to continue the success that Pat Scully and Michael O'Neill had here.”

Kenny cut a happy figure at the stadium yesterday, but he now faces one of the toughest tasks of his managerial career.

O'Neill has set the bar high and the Hooops faithful, long starved of success, are hungry for more silverware as well as stylish football.

However, Kenny insisted: “It's not daunting for me because I have a fair degree of experience managing in the Champions League and UEFA Cup preliminary stages as well as the Scottish Premier League. I'm comfortable with expectation, I don't fear it; I relish it.”

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