Stephen Kenny Q&A – Part Two
“It’s a fuss over nothing. It’s a football pitch. There are two goals on each end of it and if we score more we win – simple as that!” – Tiarnan Mulvenna gives his views on “El Plastico”. Part 2 of Thursday night’s Q&A is now online.
On how the squad is shaping up
“We have a squad of 16 players. We shall be signing another goalkeeper to put pressure on Peter, another striker and, probably, a left-sided attacking player. That would conclude the squad. We have some players from the U19s. Sami Osobe is training with us at the minutes. Some of the young players are sitting their Mock Leaving Certs this week. Fergal McMahon is a good player that has come in from Monaghan. Conor McDonald is with us. Bob McKenna will most likely leave the club as he has his heart set on a scholarship in America. Fergal, Sami and Fergal are training with the first team at the minute and any other players who do well with the under 19s will be involved.”
“I can’t make any predictions about how we will do. It’s an interesting season ahead. Sligo are champions – Rovers, Derry, Pats, Cork, Drogheda have all added. Limerick seem to have a lot of resources. Bray have brought in a few and UCD will always be decent. Back in 2006 – the league was like that. Every match was really competitive. Last season Dundalk and Monaghan were cut off a bit. There was some weak teams in it last year. I don’t see any weak teams this year.”
On how his team will approach each match
“No matter who we play – whether it be Shamrock Rovers or Sligo Rovers – we won’t be playing to just contain. I just don’t do that and don’t set my teams out that way. When we go to Tallaght or the Showgrounds we will play to win. We will try to get three points in every game. That can mean we might get punished now and again because we might get isolated. I want the team to evolve and to improve. That doesn’t happen when you put men behind the ball. The players we have signed like Stephen O’Donnell and Richie Towell – they are as good players as you will see in the league. We will get our setbacks. We need to take them with a level head. We have to be realistic. We have a baptism of fire – Shamrock Rovers, Shels and Sligo in our first three games – so it will be a tough start.
“We haven’t got a lot of seasoned pros. We could have gone down that route. Instead, we are going with players who have a point to prove. I haven’t signed kids. I have signed young players like Andy Boyle, Kurtis Byrne and Richie Towell who are 20/21 – but Andy has played three years in the league and played in the FAI Cup Final. Richie Towell had 16 appearances for Hibs in the SPL last year. Kurtis has good experience at good clubs. John Sullivan is only 21/22 but has a lot of appearances under his belt and an FAI Cup Final appearance. I’d rather have a player who has the potential to be really good instead of somebody coming down at the far side of his career.
Mark Rossiter and Stephen O’Donnell obviously have great experience. Dane Massey has five years in the league.
Perhaps our squad size could be bigger. But we are not in the Setanta Cup or Europe so we don’t have that type of drain on the players. We need some luck with injuries. We have brought in Graham Byrne to do the sports science end of things. We hope to minimise any injuries. We have good practice here that will minimise the injuries. We are not in a position to have 24 players in the squad with the resources that we have at the minute.
On options at centre-half
“We have got three players – Mark Rossiter, Chris Shields and Andy Boyle that i’ve earmarked for centre-back. We have signed Chris as a centre-back despite his background as a midfielder. I think he has the attributes to be a centre-back. He’s quick, aggressive and brave. He has a good physical presence. We have three really quick centre halves. Mark is top notch at centre-half. He has great distribution. He’s a great passer of the ball.
There has been a sea change tactically in the league. Nearly every team is playing 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 these days. It’s a different type of game now. There are not that many big centre-forwards – there are a few – but not many. We have Boyle and Shields who are aggressive and good on the ball – and Rossiter who is a different type of player – very calm, quick and uses the ball well. John Sullivan can also fit in there – as can Dane Massey if required. So we do have options.
On how the players are adapting to “El Plastico”
Patrick Hoban: “ I’ve played a lot on these pitches. I’m quite used to it and it doesn’t bother me.”
John Dillon: “It’s not ideal. I’d prefer grass. You just adapt to it when you train. It’s fine. Nobody is getting injuries. We’ve done a lot of running on it now so i’m used to it. It’s difficult to play as a one-off but now that I am training on it also I am quite happy with it”.
Stephen McDonnell: “It can be hard to move around the pitch. But we are getting used to it. Once it is well watered it plays fine and will suit the style of football that Stephen wants us to play. “
Tiarnan Mulvenna: “It’s a fuss over nothing. It’s a football pitch. There are two goals on each end of it and if we score more we win – simple as that!”
Stephen Kenny: “I went to watch the U19s and the pitch looked poor. All of a sudden work was done on it. He rotavated the pitch. I couldn’t believe the improvement. It would great to have that work done more often. It made a big difference to how the pitch played and how it looked. I know the intention is to make a much bigger effort to maintain the pitch throughout the season.”
On the need for boost his attacking options
“We’d like to add another striker. Patrick is number 9 this year. He’s a stylish player. Kurtis has a bit of swagger about him and has great touch. Tiarnan is very quick and direct. So we have three very different types of forwards. We’d like another one because of the chance of injuries and to increase competition. It’s the area of the pitch we’d tend to change the most. We have this young local kid – Sami Osabe – he looks promising also.”