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Ireland's cohesive performance is 'evidence' things have changed for Stephen Kenny | Stuey Byrne

Ireland continued their recent growth with another positive performance against Portugal on Thurs...



Ireland's cohesive performance...
Soccer

Ireland's cohesive performance is 'evidence' things have changed for Stephen Kenny | Stuey Byrne

Ireland continued their recent growth with another positive performance against Portugal on Thursday and Stuey Byrne believes their showing is "evidence" that things are clicking into gear for Stephen Kenny.

Byrne was impressed with the bravery shown by the Irish players during the 0-0 draw with a Portugal side spearheaded by Cristiano Ronaldo.

The trajectory of the Irish team is finally trending upward and Byrne believes it could result in a contract renewal for Kenny sooner rather than later.

"We have gone head to head, toe to toe, with one of the best teams in the world," Byrne said.

"I have to say, tonight they did not play like one of the best teams in the world but Ireland conducted themselves in a manner where they were able to come away with a result and probably could have gone and won it.

"Sometimes it can be difficult from the outside looking in. [You think] is it ever going to change? Tonight was evidence it has definitely changed.

"It was a great performance and I think the Football Association of Ireland will look at this. I would not be surprised if Kenny's extension comes even quicker now."

By and large, Ireland managed to quieten Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes. Indeed, Fernandes was taken off on the 75th minute and Byrne made sure to highlight the role of Josh Cullen in Ireland's midfield. According to Byrne, Cullen "shut down" the Manchester United playmaker and controlled the midfield in a composed fashion.

Ireland captain, Seamus Coleman battles with Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo

Ireland's cause was not aided by an erratic performance from referee Jesus Gil Manzano despite the fact that Pepe was issued a late red card that reduced Portugal to ten men.

"I know he sent Pepe off but you are not looking for the referee to do you favours," Byrne continued.

"You are looking for him to be consistent and looking for decisions to make sense. A lot of the stuff he did, to me, did not make sense. There were other instances in the game where players should have been booked. It was all very unusual for me."

Ireland are unable to qualify for the World Cup at this juncture, however, they will have the opportunity to continue their unbeaten run against Luxembourg on Sunday evening at 8 PM.

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Aviva Stadium Bruno Fernandes Cristiano Ronaldo Dublin Ireland Joao Felix Josh Cullen Lansdowne Road Portugal Shane Duffy Stephen Kenny Stuey Byrne