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Alan Kelly blames COVID-19 as...
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Alan Kelly blames COVID-19 as he confirms Ireland coaching departure

Alan Kelly has become the latest departure from the Republic of Ireland coaching staff. 

The 52-year old has served as goalkeeping coach under Stephen Staunton, Giovanni Trapattoni, Mick McCarthy and now, Stephen Kenny.

But Kelly has followed Damien Duff in leaving the Ireland camp weeks before the start of the World Cup qualifiers.

"Alan called to inform me of his decision and I have accepted it,” Kenny said in a statement.

"I want to thank him for his time as goalkeeper coach with me and for his overall contribution to Irish football."

Kelly - a noted asthmatic - blamed the pandemic on his decision, saying, "With COVID-19 still viciously circulating in our communities, it is with a heavy heart that I have decided the time is right to step down from my role with the Republic of Ireland senior international team and pass on a fantastic group of goalkeepers to a new goalkeeping coach for the upcoming World Cup qualifying campaign.

“It has been an absolute honour and a privilege to represent the Republic of Ireland as a player and coach for the last 28 years. A special thank you goes out to all the Irish International goalkeepers I have played alongside and had the good fortune to coach.

"I would like to thank the FAI and wish Stephen, the staff and all the players the very best of luck in the World Cup qualifiers beginning in March and for the future.”

Following Duff's decision to resign, David Sneyd wrote in The Irish Examiner that the former Chelsea and Blackburn winger's frustrations were with the FAI, and not Kenny.

He'd been unhappy with the FAI's handling of the so-called 'videogate' incident.

Unwittingly, Kelly had found himself at the centre of the Daily Mail-whipped storm. It had been rumoured that the 34-time Ireland international had been the one to leak the story to the English newspaper.

Speaking in December, Kenny firmly stated that Kelly "definitely did not" pass the story on to the media.

The goalkeeping coach had opted against travelling to Dublin for the Nations League game with Bulgaria in November due to health concerns.

In a post titled 'enough is enough' Kelly tweeted some days later that he had nothing to do with the leaking of the story, adding it was "shameful" his name was being dragged through the mud.

The Irish Times piece says that Kelly and Kenny have a good relationship, but this mooted departure is another body blow to the Ireland boss.

He's yet to oversee a win during his tenure, with the only goal under Kenny coming in his first game in charge -a 1-1 draw with Bulgaria.

Shay Given and Dean Kiely - two of his successors between the posts for Ireland - are both currently employed as goalkeeping coaches.

Ireland's 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign begins away to Serbia on March 24, before Luxembourg visit the Aviva three-days later.

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Alan Kelly Damien Duff Dean Kiely FAI Ireland Republic Of Ireland Shay Given Stephen Kenny

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