Stephen Kenny arrived at the studio in Dawson Street where the interview for Experience was being recorded and it was hard to recognise the man from the hesitant figure who sometimes appears before the cameras after an Ireland game.

An old English manager used to say that journalists wanted an answer on a Saturday night that it might take him all weekend to come up with and Kenny can sometimes appear to be working to a similar timeframe.

But as he sat down for this podcast, he was different. Over the course of the next two hours, there were moments when he became more hesitant and many more moments when the energy came through.

Kenny has always been at his best when working towards a grander vision. His critics will say that there has been too much vision and not enough progress, although anyone who watches the side would say differently.

This was an interview that went beyond football, into the search for his birth mother and the contact he has made with his sisters in recent years. It is an interview too about handling pressure, about dealing with criticism, even when criticism comes from people like Brian Kerr who he has been close to. It is also an interview which tells the story of a man who has always been driven by a need to connect and sees that as the most important aspect of his job. He might even call it a mission.

Dion Fanning and Stephen Kenny. Photo: Bryan Meade

But he also speaks about something that is true in relation to the Irish team. There had been some great nights for Ireland over the past ten years but there were many more that seemed like drudgery. It is not just a consequence of so many games now being in the balance that there is a greater excitement. The emergence of players like Gavin Bazunu, Andrew Omambamadle, and Chiedozie Ogbene has excited Ireland supporters. Yet the results have meant that Kenny remains under pressure.

“People wanted to see something different. They’d seen the Irish team play a certain way and they knew the game was evolving. I think it needed to be done. There has been criticism and we are we are cautious by nature in Ireland and I think football wise, we have been institutionalised a lot of in relation to what brought success in the past.”