GOALKEEPER COACH ALAN Kelly is the latest to walk away from Stephen Kenny’s backroom staff. In a statement released tonight via the FAI, Kelly – who is asthmatic – confirmed his decision to step away was due to his concerns about Covid-19.
“With Covid-19 still viciously circulating in our communities, it is with a heavy heart that I have decided the time is right to step down from my role with the Republic of Ireland senior international team and pass on a fantastic group of goalkeepers to a new goalkeeping coach for the upcoming World Cup qualifying campaign”, said Kelly.
“It has been an absolute honour and a privilege to represent the Republic of Ireland as a player and coach for the last 28 years. A special thank you goes out to all the Irish International goalkeepers I have played alongside and had the good fortune to coach.
“I would like to thank the FAI and wish Stephen, the staff and all the players the very best of luck in the World Cup qualifiers beginning in March and for the future.”
He remains in his other role as goalkeeper coach at Everton.
Kelly’s exit is yet more upheaval for Stephen Kenny to deal with, coming days after Damien Duff elected to walk away from the camp.
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Kelly left the camp prior to the final game of 2020 at home to Bulgaria, citing his asthma as the reason amid Covid-19 cases in the Irish squad in a statement issued by the FAI. The ‘videogate’ saga blew up later that week, and Kelly reacted angrily to incorrect speculation he was responsible for the leaking of dressing room information. In a statement released on his own Twitter feed, a “disgusted” Kelly hit out at a “false media narrative” claiming he was responsible for the leak.
There was speculation that Kelly was the staff member who lodged the complaint that led the FAI to investigate the motivational video shown prior to a game with England in the first place, but Kenny said last month Kelly made no such complaint.
Kenny also said he expected Kelly to return to the senior international set-up next March, for the World Cup qualifiers against Serbia and Luxembourg.
Kelly was the only member of Mick McCarthy’s staff retained by Kenny when he took the job last April.
“Alan called to inform me of his decision and I have accepted it”, said Kenny. “I want to thank him for his time as goalkeeper coach with me and for his overall contribution to Irish football.”
Kenny must now find a replacement for Kelly along with Duff, who announced his exit from the camp last Friday. While Duff has not officially commented on his reasons for leaving, it’s understood his issue is not with Kenny but the FAI, over their handling of the ‘videogate’ issue.