As Euro 2020 gets set to finally start on Friday, a year later than planned, Ireland are about to sign off for the summer with an international friendly against Hungary in Budapest.

And after all that has gone on over the past 12 months, Stephen Kenny must be pondering 'what if' his tenure was only beginning at the end of the tournament, as planned.

The Covid-19 crisis wreaked havoc on all aspects of the footballing world over the past 12 months, and even to reflect on why Ireland are not participating in their third successive European Championships takes some untangling.

The campaign will probably be best remembered for the comings and goings, with the return of Mick McCarthy, the drama by the Rock when the below-par performance was overshadowed by the beginning of the end of the John Delaney era, and onto the ‘when will Stephen Kenny take over’ debate that followed the failure to qualify.

Kenny was duly catapulted into the job and despite the fact that he has already completed 12 games in a whirlwind nine months, there must be a feeling from within that the job can really begin in earnest once this month’s delayed tournament is completed.

With three important World Cup qualifying games to look forward to in September, Kenny is frantically trying to implement a particular style and a build a team that will have a "clear image".

Kenny’s calling card was always based on the promise of playing football the right way, while believing that the country actually has the players to carry out that philosophy.

And while there have been some moments of the project progressing over the past 12 games, everything that Kenny is trying to implement has been overshadowed by the run of results that yielded zero victories in his first eleven.

The defeat to Luxembourg was the low point of Kenny's tenure

For Kenny to establish longevity in the senior role, his team will need to be winning games against Slovakia, Wales, Finland and Bulgaria, not to mention Luxembourg, who really hit a man while he was down.

The team must also be capable of producing spirited performances against the top seeds throughout future campaigns.

There were signs of progress in the big games of Kenny’s short tenure; the play-off in Slovakia, where Ireland dominated away from home but came unstuck in the penalty shootout, as well at the away performance in Serbia, where his side ended up on the wrong side of a five-goal encounter.

After a stuttering start, Kenny is now putting a lot more emphasis on the front line having scored just one goal from his opening eight games.

The manager even admitted after the Andorra game that his side had not done too much work on defending set-pieces as that is one area where the national team have been quite consistent over successive campaigns.

Kenny is trying every combination and available option in the quest to bring consistency in attack and the two goals in Serbia, combined with four more against Andorra will encourage the former Dundalk boss that it is the right approach.

And as this final international window comes to a close, the game in Budapest will reveal whether the very small bit of momentum that has started to materialise since the Luxembourg defeat can be carried into the summer and set the team up for a good go at the triple-header in September, beginning with a daunting away day in Portugal.

"We'd like a really positive performance against Hungary," said Kenny, speaking at the pre-match press conference.

"The positives [from Andorra] is that three players scored their first goals for Ireland: Troy Parrott getting off the mark and getting two very well-taken goals and also Daryl Horgan scoring and Jason Knight getting his first goal for Ireland.

"They are positive experiences for the players and I'm sure they will take that into the game.

"We are looking forward to [playing Hungary], it will be a good test for our players. You can see the emergence of some players and they can only benefit from that."

Can Troy Parrott's goals kick-start the manager's era

Looking ahead to this week’s Euro 2020 kick-off, the manager would probably appreciate it to be referenced that failing to qualify was not on his watch, but rather the paltry return from those eight games in 2019.

Granted Kenny had one shot at glory in Slovakia thanks to the UEFA Nations League format, but there were too many circumstances going on in the build-up to that game to mention. In fact, in hindsight, the manager probably did not get the credit for the performance that his team put in that night before the penalty lottery.

After the Euros, the focus turns back to the World Cup campaign in the autumn, where there will emerge a much clearer picture of where Kenny is going with this squad and how far they can go.

To his credit, Kenny has admitted that the job has not been going according to plan over the first full season in charge, but there appears a confidence emerging that augers well for the future.

"I would have wanted to do better than I have overall," said Kenny. "There's no doubt. I wouldn't try to paint a different picture.

"We are in the midst of building a team at the moment, one we can be very proud of in the future.

"I think there's a clear vision of the team we want to create. I want the team to have a clear identity. We have 13 players made their senior international competitive debut in that period.

"That's quite a radical shift and we are creating a stronger squad going forward for the three-game windows. A team that the supporters can identify with.

"We'll want to finish the week strongly and take that into the September window because we have nine points to play for. Portugal, Azerbaijan and Serbia. Tough matches. We want to have a strong September and we want this week to help us to do that and give us the platform to do that."

The stark reality of this World Cup campaign, however, is that it suffered a, perhaps, fatal blow early on with the home defeat to Luxembourg.

Getting to the World Cup was always going to be a tricky test, with only one team qualifying automatically from the group, and as a result, the remainder of the campaign will serve as an audition as to whether Kenny is the manager to take Ireland into the Euro 2024 qualifying campaign.

The delay of the upcoming tournament combined with the coronavirus crisis has certainly had an impact on Kenny’s introduction to his dream job, and it looks as though it is still making life difficult for the new manager who is keen to watch Portugal play ahead of the September fixture.

"I've put a request in, we have to wait and see, I'm in discussions about that at the moment," said Kenny when asked was he travelling to the tournament.

"Nothing definitive yet."