Shamrock Rovers have confirmed the extension of Johnny Kenny’s loan deal. The Celtic forward has made 37 appearances for the Dublin side since making the temporary switch, scoring six goals and assisting on four occasions.
Speaking to shamrockrovers.ie, head coach Stephen Bradley hosted a Q&A about the signing of Kenny and said:
Q: Johnny showed plenty of his ability last season with some excellent and important goals for us, so you must be delighted to call on Johnny for another season.
A: “Yeah, I am delighted. Johnny showed last season, as a young player which people tend to forget, that he’s still learning the game and there’s still much room for improvement and growth. He’s one who we feel fits what we do. He’s a brilliant kid with a brilliant attitude and we feel he’s got all the potential to be a high-level centre forward. So, we’re delighted to have him back.”
Q: As you alluded to, people seem to overlook the fact Johnny is still a relatively young player. Was coming into a winning team going for a record-equalling four titles in a row difficult for him initially?
A: “People just see the player on the pitch. What you must also understand is that he had a difficult eighteen months before he came to us, and it takes time for a player to adjust. To a new environment and new teammates, so it takes time and doesn’t just happen overnight. The positive thing is he’s young with a top-class attitude. He’s looking to improve, to work hard and wants to get better. I think he’s got real ability and I think Johnny can fulfil that here and hopefully we can help him fulfil that ability.”
Q: You stated at the end of last season you felt Johnny would benefit longer-term from a second season with Rovers. Did Johnny take any persuasion to see how you saw it?
A: “We were always talking. I’ve been talking to Johnny since last Summer about staying for another year, so we spoke about it regularly. For someone so young, he’s mature in how he goes about the game and how he sees the game. So, it’s brilliant that he sees his immediate future here. He got a taste of it last year as we won the league and a taste of what he can achieve here, both as an individual and in a team. I always got the sense he wanted to be part of that and when we look at all Johnny’s stats last season, he’s very close to scoring a lot of goals and I think that can happen here.”
Kenny was equally enthusiastic about making the return to Dublin, where he will look to continue his development.
“I’m delighted to be back. Winning the title was massive for us last year and was a big incentive for me to come back. Hopefully, we can kick on this year and go further in Europe and in the Cup”
Q: You were voted Rovers Young Player of the Year, scoring five goals, with thirty league appearances and four in Europe. You’ll be keen to push on this coming season.
A: “Definitely. I didn’t play at my best last season. I hope to get back fully fit this year and be able to show the fans what I’m really about.”
Q: You spoke about how massive it was to win a title at twenty years of age. How much has Stephen Bradley helped you develop as a player?
A: “Winning the league was massive and gave me a taste of what you want to do and how many trophies you want to win. Stephen has been brilliant, on how to improve on and off the pitch and how to fit into a team, on and off the pitch.”
Q: You lean on your Dad and your uncle for advice. Do they help when it comes to setbacks?
A: “They help me in every circumstance and family at home are always there and of course, the coaching staff here at Rovers are always there if I need it.”
Celtic signed Kenny from Sligo Rovers in January 2022, when he signed a five year deal. After two appearances, Kenny was then loaned to Queen’s Park as he continued his development before returning to the League of Ireland. Brendan Rodgers will be keen to get young players exposure to first team football as they look to push into the first team in seasons to come.
Good luck to Kenny and hopefully he can make a positive contribution towards the South Dublin outfit’s ambitions next season.