FAI to hear from Alan Kelly and Seamus Coleman in 'motivational video' probe

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John Fallon

The FAI will seek input from goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly and captain Seamus Coleman about Stephen Kenny’s preparations for Ireland’s recent friendly in England.

Kenny was summoned to meet outcoming Gary Owens after the outgoing FAI interim chief executive received a complaint from within the camp about a controversial video and speech the manager presented inside the Wembley Stadium dressing-room.

While the video itself, mostly showing previous goals against England and references to the 1916 Easter Rising, wasn’t considered inappropriate, elements of his 15-minute subsequent address caused discomfort among some within the 40-strong group of players and staff.

Kelly, who continued in the goalkeeping role following the handover from Mick McCarthy, left the set-up four days later, citing health concerns.

The FAI’s stated intention on Thursday night to “urgency to establish the facts” saw Owens hold a frank discussion with Kenny, after which new chief executive Jonathan Hill and FAI chairman Roy Barrett were briefed. The full FAI board have yet to convene on the matter.

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As part of the FAI's probe, mindful of due process, the association are speaking with a number of other parties.

Coleman, who has not been a starter since Kenny took charge in April, was due to face England only to withdraw hours before the game due to an injury.

There is no question of Kenny’s being subject to stern disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal, but the saga, coming on top of his eight-match winless run, threatens to cause strain at an association still recovering from wounds of the past regime.

The controversy comes just a month after a very public difference of opinion between Kenny and the hierarchy over the Covid-19 disruption around the Euro play-off in Slovakia.

Kenny had to do without two of his young strikers, Aaron Connolly and Adam Idah, after they were deemed close contacts of a staff member who returned a positive case.

That was only the start of the drama as it transpired the FAI employee’s test result was a false positive and the duo only came within the two metre distance threshold on the plane because they decided to move seats.

The Ireland manager revealed within 48 hours of the penalty shoot-out defeat that he “wasn’t aware of it because I was at the front of the plane”.

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Two weeks later, Kenny insisted he was still “livid” at the episode.

Owens took a different slant, emphasising the press officer was required aboard to comply with Uefa’s protocols. “Nobody travelled that didn’t need to be there,” he said pointedly.

Owens, Barrett, and Niall Quinn initiated the move to accelerate Kenny’s ascension in April, depriving Mick McCarthy the chance of overseeing the delayed play-off semi-final in Bratislava.

The FAI will be keen to have the matter dealt with long before the draw for the 2022 World Cup, which takes place on December 7.

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