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'We weren’t far away from it being a very good performance'

Conor Coventry was taking some positives from Ireland’s loss to Italy on Friday.

Conor Coventry (file pic).
Conor Coventry (file pic).
Image: Filip Filipovic/INPHO

CONOR COVENTRY was refusing to get too downhearted after Ireland’s disappointing 2-0 loss to Italy at Tallaght Stadium on Friday night.

The defeat was a blow to Jim Crawford’s side’s qualification hopes — in the group standings, they now sit seven and six points behind Sweden and Italy respectively with five games left to play.

“I think there were a few things missing from our performance but we weren’t far away from it being a very good performance where we’ve won 2-0 or 1-0. It’s fine margins. It’s obviously what happens when you play a team like that, there are obviously going to be little moments in games that can change it and they went their way.”

Coventry started in midfield alongside Bournemouth’s Gavin Kilkenny but they were up against a formidable Italian outfit that included Nicolò Rovella, who joined Juventus for an €18 million fee earlier this year.

“They were good players, to be fair, the three [attackers] moving around and rotating. Then you’ve got the wide lads coming inside as well. So I found there was a lot around us in there. But you have got to expect that against the top teams and I don’t think they really hurt us through the middle too much. But they had some good possession and some good players.”

Ireland were largely second best, but they had a chance to snatch a draw late on, as Ross Tierney found himself through on goal, but goalkeeper Marco Camesecchi was off his line quickly to make an excellent point-blank save.

“Rossi has been brilliant all campaign. In the last game, I missed a penalty and that’s come back to bite us now. I wouldn’t hold it against him at all, he was brilliant when he came on and there were other moments in the game where we should have had a bit more quality as a team. You saw a couple of the goals, maybe we could have defended a little bit better. So I’m not even really thinking about Rossi’s chance.”

The West Ham youngster, currently on loan in the Championship with Peterborough, admits Tuesday’s game against Sweden is now a must-win in order for Ireland to keep their qualification hopes alive.

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“I think we sort of knew if tonight didn’t go our way, we’d look at having to try and win all of [the remaining qualifiers]. We are well capable of it and we will go into it believing we can. I believe we can. I think with a bit more confidence on Tuesday, a bit more belief in what we are doing and conviction, we can beat them. We still have belief in the group and hopefully, we can get back on track.”

Coventry also paid tribute to Peterborough teammate Jack Taylor, who has just been called up to the Ireland senior squad.

“I’m delighted for him. He’s a top guy, so it’s great to see him getting that recognition and going up to the senior team. Hopefully, he can get a cap.”

About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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