‘We are capable of getting better’ – Stephen Kenny challenges Ireland to improve after Ukraine point

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Stephen Kenny has challenged his Irish side to go to another level after admitting to mixed feelings following a 1-1 draw with Ukraine that ended the June international window on a high.

n incredible first-half solo run from Nathans Collins put the ‘away’ side ahead in Lodz, but Artem Dovbyk levelled just after the interval with Kenny frustrated his team were so open for the goal having defended their box well otherwise.

He showered praise on his back three, with Collins naturally the main talking point given the overall quality of his display.

Kenny was reluctant to get drawn into discussion about what the 21-year-old should do next in his club career given he has just suffered relegation with Burnley.

“The four games he has been played, he’s been really exceptional,” said Kenny, “His decision making for one so young is excellent.”

He also praised his defensive colleagues Dara O’Shea and Darragh Lenihan, the latter making his competitive debut for his country.

The result means Ireland have taken four points from four games, with Kenny disappointed with that points tally and still sore from the defeats away to Yerevan and at home to Ukraine.

Now the Dubliner wants his team to move up a gear from the levels they reached in the latter half of the gathering.

“Were we perfect? No. Our expectations are that we want to get better again,” said Kenny, who was hailed by the 800 strong Irish support post-match.

“I want us to be better than that and improve again – we are capable of getting better. The capacity for improvement is high.

“It was harsh to lose the opening two games. To have no points from that was difficult to take. We’re leaving the stadium disappointed we haven’t won this game.

“But considering where we were a few days ago, and losing so many key players (in defence), our back three were brilliant and gave us a great platform.

“I’m frustrated we couldn’t win that game. The players were brilliant, we have to continue to improve.”

Ireland finish their Nations League campaign with a September double header away to Scotland and at home to Armenia.

Kenny’s side are third in the table as it stands, three behind leaders Ukraine with a game more played.



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