Shane Duffy tries to piece it all together after Ireland fall short
Ireland captain rues Braithwaite’s goal as his side now head for the Euro 2020 play-offs
Shane Duffy captained Ireland as they were held 1-1 by Denmark in Dublin. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Shane Duffy had the look of a man with shellshock as he stood and spoke, but he clearly hadn’t quite satisfactorily pieced together what had just transpired inside his own head. There was a lot for the Irish captain to get to grips with on a night when the team had produced perhaps its best performance of the campaign but still conceded the soft goal that made qualification almost an impossibility for a side that scores so few.
“It’s tough to take at the minute,” said the towering defender from Derry not long enough after the final whistle for the outcome to have truly sunk in. “I’m just trying to sort of stay positive that we played well. We’re not out yet so just trying to take positives from it. But it’s disappointing to have conceded a sloppy goal. Having played so well, we probably deserved to win but we didn’t get it.
“It (Martin Braithwaite’s close range effort 17 minutes from time) was just obviously a lack of communication between me and Matt (Doherty),” he said. “He’s cut back in. There’s no pressure on the ball so I dropped to head the cross away. That’s football, we make mistakes together and we win together, as simple as.
“Obviously the higher level we go up you can’t make mistakes, you get punished, and if you want to qualify for major tournaments it’s something we are going to have to learn from. That’s the only slight little error we made all game and they punished us.”
He had one chance himself in the first half after an Irish corner had been partially cleared and Glenn Whelan sought to pick him out at the far post, but the Danes knew how much would hinge on their defending against Duffy and they did that part of their job well with Kasper Dolberg, on that occasion, doing enough to frustrate the Irishman.
“We’ve played them so many times that they probably know everything about us at this stage and so credit to them, they defended me quite well tonight. That was difficult for me but we did have a few chances for the other lads.
“It’s difficult because you are out there and you are feeling ‘surely we are going to get a goal here in a minute’ and then they just go and sort of kill you with a goal. It’s quite hard for the first couple of minutes after that but you could see the fans kept us going and even when we were 1-0 down they were still rallying behind us. Then we got the goal and it changed, we sort of threw the kitchen sink at it but it just didn’t drop for us.”
Like Duffy, Doherty’s demeanour was a clear indication of just how disappointed he was but the Wolves wing back insisted that Ireland can build on this performance to qualify through the play-offs.
“It’s sickening, really to be honest,” he said. “I thought we played really well. We definitely deserved to win the game. They had one chance and managed to score and we looked like the better team tonight. We played really good stuff; I thought so anyway.”
In terms of chances, he acknowledged, there was not so much to shout about: “Probably nothing clear cut but I think we were definitely in the ascendancy. I think the momentum was behind us, but during the whole group we have struggled to score goals.
“Of course we know that March is to come but we were pretty confident tonight and played out from the back, our shape was good, our movement was good. If everyone can stay in form and stay fit, though, then the play-offs should be good for us.”