'We're not just here to take part, we want to win. That's been driven into us from day one'

Bohemians and Ireland U21 defender Darragh Leahy is hoping to maintain his side’s fast start to the Toulon Tournament.

IRELAND U21 AND Bohemians defender Darragh Leahy insists Stephen Kenny’s side are aiming to maintain their fast start to the Toulon Tournament and succeed as a group on the world stage.

Ireland celebrated a convincing 4-1 win over China in their opening tournament game and now look ahead to Thursday’s top of the group clash with Mexico [kick-off 6.30pm / Free Sports - Sky Channel 429].

Darragh Leahy celebrates after the game Darragh Leahy is hoping to build in Ireland's fast start to the Toulon Tournament. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

The young Irish stars go into the game with their Group C rivals with optimism after their wonderful performance at the Stade de Lattre de Tassigny on Monday.

“We’re not just here to take part, we do want to do well and win,” Leahy told FAI TV ahead of the game. “That’s been driven into us from day one since we got in here.

It just shows the belief we have in each other and in the team. We’re all together. We all have the same goal and the same drive.

“It’s been a few years since Ireland has been invited to play here and it has been a real honour. The games are broadcast around Europe and around the world nearly.

“There’s a big audience watching it. You’re against top players, it’s good to test yourself. The different culture and the different styles of play, it’s a good experience.”

Leahy, who plies his trade in the League of Ireland Premier Division, says his start to the season with Bohs has given him the confidence to perform alongside those playing with English clubs.

“Obviously it took a while to settle in and mix with the lads to get up to speed because I wasn’t playing games over in England.

But once I got a few games under my belt and got my confidence back up, I really enjoyed it. It goes to show that the quality of the league is progressing and is getting higher and better every year.

“There are a few fellas on this squad that came home from England. It’s not a step back, it’s a bounce board to kick on and get yourself playing again.”

Darragh Leahy Darragh Leahy has enjoyed a wonderful first half of the season with Bohs. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Former Dundalk boss Kenny will no doubt have been impressed with the manor of his side’s first victory of the tournament. Leahy added that the quick-fire goals were a signal of intent from this current Irish crop.

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“Obviously it’s important to get three points on the board so early on and start so well.

“We scored after [33] seconds and got two early goals to settle us down. It was a really good win.

We did our work on China and we know our style of play. We scored straight away and they didn’t even touch the ball. I don’t think anyone expected us to score two early goals at international level but we’ll take it.

“We’ve done some work on Mexico. They look like a tougher test than China and we’ll have to be up for it.

“We can’t go into it expecting it to be easy just because we had an easy win against China. It’s a completely different game.”

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