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Kenny won't blame Randolph and...
Soccer

Kenny won't blame Randolph and says Ireland unfortunate to lose

Stephen Kenny refused to blame Darren Randolph for Ireland's latest Nations League defeat, feeling his side were unlucky to leave Helsinki empty-handed.

A hurried goal-kick from the West Ham keeper was pounced upon by Finland's Teemu Pukki, whose cross found its way to Frederik Jensen who scored the only goal of the game.

Ireland again had plenty of chances, but didn't manage to convert any. Enda Stevens struck the crossbar moments before Jensen's goal.

While only a Gordon Banks-esque save from Lukas Hradecky denied Ronan Curtis an injury-time equaliser.

We've given a present away for the goal, and that hasn't been like us

"We can consider ourselves unfortunate to lose," Kenny said after the game, after listing the chances that went begging.

"When Enda Stevens hit the bar that time, that would have put us 1-0 up and a minute later we're 1-0 down, so that was difficult to take.

"We've given a present away for the goal, and that hasn't been like us because over the two previous games - 120-minutes against Slovakia - and against Wales, [we've had] two clean sheets and haven't conceded.

"The defence have been really good, and Darren's been really good in goal. It's just one of those things that we have to put behind us - the goal itself.

"Some of the players have played 120-minutes, 90-minutes. It's been well documented that we lost eight players through the COVID-related issues and some players through injury also.

"Some of the players that came in acquitted themselves brilliantly, really. I was very happy with that.

"Yeah there was periods of the game where we could have done better. I think there was a bit of fatigue as well, from players playing their third game in six days, with the extra-time and so forth, and the two travels.

"Overall the players showed their undoubted commitment by pushing right until the end, continuously pushing trying to get that equaliser, and showed a fair bit of quality and maybe our finishing let us down."

Hard to believe we didn't score

Defeat leaves Ireland second-from-bottom of their UEFA Nations League Group, and effectively looking towards November's game with Bulgaria at the Aviva as a means of League B survival.

And despite the "present" he offered Finland, Kenny has no doubts that Randolph remains his number-1 choice in goal.

"We were good defensively here - including Darren Randolph, who's been excellent for us," the manager said.

"You can't legislate for a mistake sometimes. Darren's been very consistent for us. It was his 47th international for us tonight and he's been very very consistent for a number of years now.

"It's just one of those things you have to accept. A disappointing goal to give away, of course, but it's hard to believe we didn't score then with the opportunities in terms of hitting the crossbar, the post and then the saves that were made.

"We just have to accept the defeat."

Mitigating circumstances

Kenny's highlighted the "mitigating circumstances" of his side's inability to find the net in over five-hours of football now.

On Sunday, Daryl Horgan said Ireland probably just needed a ball to "hit someone on the arse and go in", to end that long wait for a goal.

It's a sentiment his manager would certainly echo, but he says he hasn't been helped by his ever-changing absentee list of the past week.

Already without the injured Seamus Coleman, and Harry Arter, Kenny said, "The fact that we could lose eight players on the morning of the Welsh game, and still go and play Wales and play reasonably well and more than hold our own against Wales speaks volumes for the players really.

"They didn't deserve to lose in Slovakia - they were absolutely exceptional. Tonight, we had spells where we need to improve.

"Finland played well at times, and so did we. It was a pretty evenly-contested match.

"We're in the dressing room wondering 'did we deserve to lose that?', and the answer is no we probably didn't. But we have done. But that's something that's not good enough, from my point of view.

"The players have shown real character. The young players that have come in have shown a good mentality and I'd be optimistic that they will go on and be important players for Ireland."

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Bulgaria Darren Randolph Finland Ireland Nations League Republic Of Ireland Stephen Kenny Uefa Nations League

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