Darren Randolph defiant about Ireland’s chances of qualifying

‘We get written off a lot. But the lads are used to it, we use it as motivation,’ he says

Ireland goalkeeper Darren Randolph saves a penalty during the Euro 2020 Group D qualifier against Switzerland at the  Stade de Geneva. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Ireland goalkeeper Darren Randolph saves a penalty during the Euro 2020 Group D qualifier against Switzerland at the Stade de Geneva. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

 

Goalkeeper Darren Randolph remains defiant of Irish hopes of qualification for Euro 2020 ahead of the Denmark game next month with the 32-year-old insisting the players are motivated by a desire to prove the sceptics wrong.

“Nothing is being said in the dressingroom but before the group started, I don’t think anyone would have had us in the position we are with one game to go,” said the Middlesbrough goalkeeper, whose saves in the second half against Switzerland kept Mick McCarthy’s side in with a shout of taking something from the game until the dying seconds.

“We get written off a lot. But the lads are used to it, we use it as motivation. It doesn’t bother me. People can say what they want but look where we are. We can’t be that bad.”

The tone seems to be fairly standard ‘siege mentality’ stuff. It follows on from the comments made by McCarthy at his pre-match press conference where he was critical of the sense that there was a lack of optimism among the media regarding his side’s ability to get the win they needed over the course of the two games.

Ireland goalkeeper Darren Randolph applauds the travelling Irish support after the defeat to Switzerland in Geneva. photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Ireland goalkeeper Darren Randolph applauds the travelling Irish support after the defeat to Switzerland in Geneva. photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Overall, though, Randolph’s claim that the team has significantly exceeded expectation seems a little tough to stand up. The draw was generally greeted as having been kind, the return of McCarthy generated a bit of a feelgood factor after a very poor year and Ireland have 12 points having played the group’s two weakest sides twice each and three other games. It is not clear who the naysayers were or where he thinks they thought the team would be at this stage of things.

He is crystal clear about the intention next month. “We win, we qualify,” he says. “Thinking back to when we did qualify against Bosnia, the lads in there who know that feeling, it’s something for the other lads who weren’t to think about and daydream about. That alone should be enough ammunition to fire them up.

“We know it’s win and go through,” he continues. “We switch off and go back to club football but with a week, two weeks to go you start to think about it again and what could happen.

“I’ll be able to switch off quite easily but it will definitely be in the back of mind. I will have some days when I’m daydreaming about qualifying in Dublin but it won’t be the sole thing occupying my thoughts for the next game. We qualify or go into the playoff.”

Like McCarthy, he insists there were positive elements that he and the rest of the squad can take encouragement from as they prepare for the Denmark game.

“We need to take that second half, just getting on the ball, passing it, being confident and getting belief,” he says. “But it’s winner takes all now. We didn’t start the game well, played better second half and now we get another chance.”

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