On Wednesday, October 23rd former Bray boss Harry Kenny was installed as chief of St. Patrick’s Athletic. The former Shamrock Rovers player will take the reigns left vacant by Liam Buckley recently.

The appointment is an interesting one for the Super Saints. The Dubliner was part of Liam Buckley’s backroom team when the Inchicore club lifted the league title in 2013. In 2016 Kenny took on his first managerial venture when he became manager of Bray Wanderers. He guided the club to a surprise 6th placed finish by the end of that season. The Wicklow club invested heavily in the summer of 2017 as Kenny looked to take them to the next level. Sadly with serious financial issues behind the scenes results suffered badly and Kenny announced he was leaving at the end of the season.

Options

Despite been well respected as a coach and a reputation for getting the best out of players, one wonders if this appointment is a risky one for the Saints. If you are to believe the mainstream media, names such as Pat Fenlon, Paul Doolin and Kenny Cunningham were all considered for the post. Of course, any appointment will come with at least an element of risk. You have Kenny Cunningham, a former Irish International and highly respected pundit, but with no real managerial experience. The other candidates Paul Doolin and Pat Fenlon have bucket loads of experience within the league and have had no shortage of success. Doolin had success in 2005 leading Drogheda Utd to the FAI Cup. He also managed the Irish U19 side for six years from 2010 to 2016.

Pat Fenlon is by far the most successful of the candidates. The former Shelbourne player lead the Tolka Park side to their first ever back to back league titles in 2003 and 2004. Fenlon was the first manager to lead an Irish club to the third qualifying round of a major European competition. Pat would go on and lead Bohemians to a league and cup double in 2009.

Club Confidence

The fact that Harry Kenny was chosen ahead of such big names and managers with proven track records is something in itself. Saints chairman Gareth Kelleher obviously worked with him in 2013 and must feel Kenny can bring the Saints forward. It will be interesting however,  to see what measures the club are taking to tackle the gap between themselves and the big guns.

Having lost a very good manager in Liam Buckley this transition is vital for the club. With a freshening of ideas and with a few players surely joining the club for next season, it represents an interesting time for the saints. No doubt 56 year old Kenny has a challenge on his hands. Ultimately his experience as a manager is limited, having had barely two seasons as a manager. The St. Pats fans are a passionate bunch but are also realistic and have always afforded a manager time. This will be a great help to Kenny as he will look for time to shape his squad.

The close season may well prove to be a crucial one for the South Dublin club.