Irish Sunday Mirror - - SPORT - BY PAUL O’HEHIR

JOHN DELANEY once de­scribed the League of Ire­land as a ‘dif­fi­cult child for the or­gan­i­sa­tion’.

Four years on, the FAI chief ap­pointed Dun­dalk’s man­ager as the U21 Ire­land boss, with the se­nior man­ager role to fol­low in 2020.

Stephen Kenny’s el­e­va­tion to the hot-seat once Mick Mccarthy’s departs is a sign of an im­prov­ing league, ac­cord­ing to Delaney, who claimed “no­body cares more about the League of Ire­land than me”.

Ahead of today’s Euro 2020 draw, he said: “The league is mak­ing re­ally pos­i­tive steps. We want it com­ing for­ward at an even faster pace.

“But I’m not sur­prised a man­ager like Stephen Kenny, by 2020, can man­age the se­nior in­ter­na­tional team. Ab­so­lutely not. You have to look at the in­di­vid­ual and ask, can Stephen Kenny (above) do it? Of course he can.

“Stephen Kenny is an out­stand­ing young man­ager and I think he’s go­ing to be a big suc­cess for Ir­ish foot­ball.”

Delaney (above) has found his ‘dif­fi­cult child’ com­ment hard to shake; Ire­land fans have even turned it into a flag.

Of­fer­ing his case for the de­fence, Kenny stressed: “Hon­estly, I come from the League of Ire­land.

“My dad used to bring me to League of Ire­land games when he was chair­man of Water­ford. I was there when they won the Cup in 1980. I was sec­re­tary of Water­ford.

“No­body cares more about the League of Ire­land than me.

“I didn’t mean it in that con­text and people should know that. It was where it was to where it is.”

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