Harry Kenny talks John Giles at Shamrock Rovers and the challenge of catching Dundalk

Bray Wanderers chats with Team 33 about his playing and management career

BY Raf Diallo 15:08 Wednesday 14 December 2016, 15:08 14 Dec 2016

Bray Manager Harry Kenny ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

When Harry Kenny took on the reins of Bray Wanderers back in June, the League of Ireland club were 11th of 12 in the Premier Division.

Fast forward to the end of the season and Bray had shot up to the top half of the table, finishing sixth just above, St Patrick's Athletic, who were the last club to win the league title prior to Dundalk's current era of dominance.

Speaking of the current champions, Harry Kenny was also part of a dominant side as a player. In his case, it was the Shamrock Rovers of the 1980s with whom he won four league titles in a row from 1983-84 to 1986-87.

He was also part of a crop of Rovers players who joined the then-Milltown based club when Ireland legend John Giles took charge of the club in the late 1970s.

On this week's Team 33, Kenny joined Joe and I to talk about both his career as a player and managing in the League of Ireland.

You can listen to the full interview with Harry on the podcast player below or stream on iTunes. It also includes an interview with Backpage Football co-editor Neil Sherwin on the issue of fake news in the football sphere.

Back in October, we spoke to ex-Bray Wanderers and Drogheda United boss Mick Cooke on Team 33 about his own memories of being part of Giles' Shamrock Rovers.

The ambition had been to bring a greater level of professionalism to the League of Ireland in the 1970s but as Giles himself explained previously, unfortunately obstacles existed which prevented the positive changes he was hoping to spark.

It was a missed opportunity for Irish football as Kenny recalls.

"It was around '78, John Giles had this idea going back then that he would get all the best young players in the country - and we were full-time back then - to try and compete in Europe," Kenny recalls.

"But it never worked out. John wanted to play a really good brand of football and the pitches in them days certainly weren't as good as they are now. So that never really worked out but it was a great experience with some fantastic players at the time. We had the likes of Jim Beglin, Ray Treacy and Paddy Mulligan and all these sort of fellas."

Bray Manager Harry Kenny celebrates his sides second goal against Dundalk in August ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Kenny shared some memories of what Giles was like as a manager at Rovers and also recalled taking on a young Gianluca Vialli and Roberto Mancini in an exhibition match.

He also considered the debate regarding comparisons between the greatest League of Ireland teams of all time, including Rovers of the '80s and Dundalk.

But in terms of the modern day challenge, for Bray and everyone else, of trying to catch the current champions, Kenny said, "It'll be very difficult to compete with Dundalk where they are financially. But it's going to be difficult for everyone else to catch up with them and I'm hearing that they'll win the league for the next five or six years. 

"But it doesn't really work like that. They've obviously lost two players (Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle) that have to be replaced. You just don't know. Football is very funny like that. You can get a run like Derry City this year, like we did. If we get off to a good start, or anyone else for that matter, you can be up there competing. I don't believe that they'll dominate the league for the next few years. But they'll certainly be there or thereabouts because they have the financial clout. But if you're smart enough for picking players - and [Dundalk manager] Stephen Kenny did it a few years back when he showed he had a fabulous eye for picking a player."  

Plus, Kenny spoke to us about his long-time nickname "H". 

The Stephen Elliott interview referenced at the end of the chat with Harry can be found here, and the interview with Mick Cooke here

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