On Saturday last, Stephen Kenny was in Munich to watch Germany take on Portugal - the latter will be the Republic of Ireland's next opponents in World Cup qualifying. This week, the Irish manager will again be on his travels, this time to watch the Portuguese face France in Budapest, as Euro 2020 continues apace.

The Irish are not at the pan-European party, with Kenny's side denied a spot after losing a penalty shootout to Slovakia last October.

A case of what might have been? Yes. A time to reflect on a missed opportunity in what has been an eventful time in charge so far for the Dubliner.

Speaking on RTÉ's Game On, Kenny said: "We were the better team against Slovakia in the playoff game. We played exceptionally well that night. We missed several chances in extra-time that night and lost on penalties. Slovakia have gone onto beat Poland and all credit to them. We're disappointed. That hurts that we're not there. Of course, it does."

And then the road to Qatar 2022 began.

"I thought we were absolutely brilliant against Serbia away," he added.

"That's as good a performance over the last number of years from an Irish team, in relation to the technical level that we reached against a really quality team. Serbia should be at the Euros. They're probably a last-16 Euros team, with the players they've got. We lost 3-2 and we shot ourselves in the foot, making a couple of mistakes and got punished.

Gerson Rodrigues got the winner for Luxembourg back in March

"We'd a very, very disappointing performance against Luxembourg at home. And that's a real black mark, there's no doubt about that. We didn't get to the level of intensity we had three days earlier. We're disappointed with that."

A first win in charge for Kenny came against Andorra in a friendly at the start of June. That was followed by a 0-0 draw against Euro 2020 finalists Hungary in another friendly. A camp where the Irish boss could see tangible things emerging.

"But the last camp, to score four goals and play Hungary away and to see the emergence of Caoimhin Kelleher in goal and Gavin Bazunu, playing a half each, they look excellent prospects. Dara O'Shea, that's his ninth international (in Budapest) and he's been imperious.

"The midfield three that have come in, Josh Cullen, Jason Knight and Jayson Molumby, have got a lot of talent and a lot of energy and they're only going to get better.

"The attacking three that have come into the team, Aaron Connolly, Adam Idah and Troy Parrott, still have it all to prove but they have a lot of potential and give us more options.

Troy Parrott bagged two goals in the friendly win over Andorra

"The experienced players were brilliant in the last camp. Seamus Coleman, who didn't play but travelled, was exceptional. James McClean, Shane Duffy, Matt Doherty - Matt Doherty tweaked his hamstring two days before the Hungary game. He had a scan, the scan showed nothing up but most players wouldn't have played because it was a friendly. But he's so determined to play for his country and played in that game, got through it fine, played really well I felt.

"We've got a balance of youth and experience, we're formulating a squad. We've got a big window with Portugal, Serbia and Azerbaijan - three (games) in six days. I've only actually managed Ireland for four games in the Aviva. This'll be the first time I've managed with fans. I'm very excited about that. The players are as well.

"We've made mistakes, I've made mistakes. We're looking to continually improve. Look, there's several games... We should have beaten Bulgaria twice, we should have won the playoff against Slovakia, Qatar (in the friendly), there's several games that we should have won but we didn't win.

"A lot can change, there's nine points to play for in the next window"

"So, we managed to get that win, albeit against Andorra. But with the young players scoring, Jason Knight scoring, Troy Parrott getting his first couple of goals, it was good for their confidence going forward. The performance in Hungary against a team going to the Euros, full-house, a bit of a carnival atmosphere, was fine, it was a decent performance I thought. A lot of good play in it. I think we can build on that coming into the games, starting with Portugal on 1 September.

"Listen, it (the win against Andorra) doesn't change that much. We need to continue to improve as a team. We know we need to have a good window in September. And then in October, we're away to Azerbaijan and play Portugal in Dublin. We want to finish the campaign very strongly. A lot can change, there's nine points to play for in the next window. We have to get as many points in that window and that has to be our ambition."

By the time competitive action resumes, Kenny is hoping that some of his squad find new clubs, so as to get more game time.

"Yeah, I'm hoping several players get loan moves or full moves. For example, someone I haven't lost faith in, and I think he'd be a great signing, is Robbie Brady. He's an immense talent and he's out of contract at the moment. He'll be a great signing for someone. If he can get fit and get regular game-time, he'll be a massive asset to us.

"Shane Duffy has a period left on his contract at Brighton. He'll be looking to play regularly. He'll be looking to get fixed up soon enough and I'm sure there'll be a good bit of interest in Shane. Hopefully, he gets playing regularly.

There is talk that Caoimhin Kelleher may be loaned out by Liverpool

"The goalkeepers, Caoimhin Kelleher, Gavin Bazunu and Mark Travers all potentially to go on loan and that wouldn't do any of them any harm.

"Likewise, the young forward players coming into the international team, we need them to be playing regularly with their clubs, we need them to get regular loan periods so they get the necessary experience.

"We've seen Josh Cullen going to Anderlecht and his game has elevated to another level. He's really pushed on. There's more than one avenue."

Robin Gosens found the net for the Germans against Portugal

So what did Kenny make of Portugal's 4-2 defeat to the Germans?

"Portugal are the reigning European champions and the Nations League holders, but don't forget that in 2016 they just scraped out of their group, in third place, they have all their match winners - Ronaldo, Jota, Fernandes and Silva as their front four but they were thoroughly outplayed by Germany.

"It was a great game to be at, a very high technical standard from Germany and it was good for me, tactically, to see it. It was interesting to see Germany go up against Portugal with a 3-4-3 and they really caused them problems out wide, Kimmich and Gosens as wing backs were so high up the pitch and that caused Portugal no end of problems.

"Germany played with a 3-4-3 but France won't have that, they have a flat back four, and how Portugal react to that, you learn so much from watching the games live, more than you can see on TV and it's great to attend live games.

"I don't think they'll play as poorly again and I expect a better performance from them against France."

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