Qatar World Cup: The key numbers behind Ireland’s recent renaissance under Stephen Kenny

Republic of Ireland Football boss Stephen Kenny has come up with outplays with his set of lucky numbers: 2, 5, 7, 13, 22, and 25. Five weeks after Shane Duffy’s late leveler saved Kenny from the lip against Azerbaijan, the Irish manager’s October quick pick has bought him time, and the most precious prize of all credit with players, fans, and the FAI.

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This was how Kenny cracked the code.

Two: Signified wins against Azerbaijan and Qatar, a first back-to-back for Ireland in two and a half years.

Five: The goals return of Callum Robinson as he equaled the 2013 feat attained by the legendary Robbie Keane.

Seven: The number of Republic of Ireland goals in the two games, also a first since 2013.

Thirteen: The first win in the competition for Kenny at the ‘lucky’ 13th attempt.

Twenty-two: The sum of the players Kenny used in both games, which must be an Irish record.

Twenty-five: The number of thousands at the Aviva Stadium who enjoyed every minute of the 4-0 romp against Qatar.

Kenny doesn’t need to join the rest of us this Saturday in the queue for Lotto tickets. He’s already got his inserted in his pocket. It means he is free to map out his visits across the Irish Sea for the coming weeks as he prepares for the final FIFA World Cup round-up against Portugal and Luxembourg.

The heaviness building since September’s two-point return out of a possible nine has been eased by wins that were imprinted by a welcome hint of style, even bluster. Those in harness to the Kenny creed are giddy with optimism that the October window can be a pointer to greater things. To know more about Qatar World Cup Tickets click here.

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Perhaps it’s time to light the bonfires on the Martello Towers and signal Republic of Ireland Football World Cup team is a coming force in football again. Euro 2024, here we come and all that. I’d rather hold off until Ireland has shown they can overcome teams of greater substance than the ones they played this week, and when more is asked of Kenny on the touchline in tighter games.

Azerbaijan, a flattened receipt in the FIFA World Cup, and Qatar are not in the same ball-park as Portugal or Serbia. Playing their 16th game worldwide since the end of March, Qatar was like the Harlem Globetrotters at the tail end of a global tour tired and lacking motivation.

Since September, the Qatar World Cup hosts have passed 14 goals in four losses to Group A opponents and also drawn 1-1 with Luxembourg. The early ricochet and penalty drained their meek resolve and they collapsed like a cheap suit.

As the Republic of Ireland Football World Cup squad ran unrest, inhaling out goals like porkers after truffles, not everyone was energetic. Aaron Connolly, Kenny’s first-choice striker at the start of the FIFA World Cup 2022 campaign, was entrusted to barracks, or rather the bench, once again. Troy Parrott, who plays in League One, came on twice ahead of him, as did James Collins.

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As the Republic of Ireland Football World Cup team deflated the bench at the Aviva, even Harry Arter got a tiny run. If Connolly ever needed a kick in the backside to get his career back on track, this was surely it. At 21, he needs to knuckle down and start delivering at club level or risk slipping further into the shadows.

Having Connolly at his loudest would give Republic of Ireland Football World Cup boss Kenny and further halt in an attack that lacks a goal threat, Robinson excluded. Adam Idah, for all his industry, does most of his best work with his back to goal. He’s not a sniper down the back alleys like Connolly.

If Connolly wanted an indication of a route back, Jeff Hendrick is the example. Dropped by Kenny at the start of the FIFA World Cup in March, he has since cultivated his place and drew warm praise from the manager.

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