'It hurts - I'm not made of stone' - Harry Kenny details pain as fan protest precedes resignation as Saints boss

Sun, Aug 25 2019

Kenny pictured during Friday's 3-1 defeat to UCD, his last game as manager. Credit: Al Robinson (ETPhotos)

Harry Kenny relinquished his position as St Patrick’s Athletic manager less than 24 hours after his side suffered an FAI Cup exit at the hands of UCD.

The Navan Road man tendered his resignation to the Saints the day after he left the field to cries of ‘we want Kenny out’ following the shock defeat to the Students.

There's rarely a way back for a manager when a vocal portion of the fans call for his head and Kenny saw the writing on the wall before falling on his sword.

57-year-old Kenny was despondent following the defeat in which his side ceded advantage to an inexperienced UCD team who had been hammered 10-1 by Bohemians the previous week.

That league-record defeat, along with ongoing boardroom problems, cost UCD manager Colie O’Neill his job – few would have thought Kenny would follow just five days later.

“It hurts. I’m not made of stone by any means,” Kenny told extratime.ie.

“I heard them loud and clear, but you just have to keep believing in the players and in yourself and keep motoring ahead.

“There’s still a bit to play for. We’ve seven matches to make up that ground so I’ll see what happens.”

Within a day of his wishful pronouncement, Kenny had agreed his exit from the Inchicore club, who find themselves in search of a new coach for the second year running.

Football – even in the largely semi-professional League of Ireland – is an unforgiving business, but it’s easy to discount the human cost.

Kenny stepped away from a good job with the FAI – as ETB co-ordinator in Clondalkin – to take up a full-time position with the Athletic.

Less than a year into his stint with a club with which he won a league title as assistant to Liam Buckley, Kenny finds himself out of work.

For a man who resigned as Bray Wanderers manager two years ago after financial problems derailed a campaign that looked like yielding European football, it’s a bitter pill to swallow.

The Saints offered everything Bray didn’t: stable finances, a long-term vision and, after Waterford were disqualified, Europa League football.

But fans, who had been accustomed to free-flowing football under, Buckley, quickly turned on the sometimes more direct style under Kenny.

Three major signings arrived in the window: Brandon Miele and Mikey Drennan on two-year deals and former Ireland call-up Chris Forrester for three years. It hasn’t quite gone to plan.

Miele left the club in April due to a disciplinary matter, Forrester hasn’t played in a month and Drennan is currently serving a second long ban from the FAI for his conduct on the field.

Following the game with UCD, Kenny appeared hopeful the final seven games of the season could still yield some dividends.

The Saints are just six points behind third-placed Bohemians and three behind Derry in fourth – a position which could yet secure European football depending on who wins the FAI Cup.

Within 24 hours, the Shamrock Rovers four-in-a-row legend had fallen on his sword. Like Buckley before him, Kenny saw the writing on the wall an acted quickly. Lesser men might not have.

Where this leaves Pats is unclear: director of football Ger O’Brien will likely finish the season in charge as he did last year, but he lacks the UEFA Pro Licence necessary to take over permanently.

The next manager may well land on his feet with feet with European football guaranteed – but he’ll need to win over a support spoiled by recent success.