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'We're trying to change the style of football and long-term, it's the way forward'

Harry Arter and Robbie Brady both expressed disappointment following Ireland’s loss to Finland.

Ireland's Harry Arter dejected after conceding the first goal to Finland.
Ireland's Harry Arter dejected after conceding the first goal to Finland.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

HARRY ARTER AND Robbie Brady both expressed their disappointment but suggested the best was yet to come from this Irish team, following this evening’s 1-0 Nations League defeat to Finland at the Aviva Stadium.

The loss leaves Ireland on just a point after two games, joint-bottom of the group with Bulgaria, while rivals Wales and Finland are on six and three points respectively.

More than anything though, the fixture was regarded as vital preparation for next month’s crucial Euros play-off clash away to Slovakia.

“I felt we didn’t deserve to lose the game,” Arter told Sky Sports afterwards. “We probably didn’t do enough to get a goal, but I felt we defended well for [most] of the game.

“We’ve got to make sure we see games like that out 0-0, if we’re not going to create an awful lot, we need to make sure we don’t concede.

In the attacking areas, we could have been better. I don’t think we had enough conviction up top. That’s not a criticism of the lads that were playing there. As a team, whether the build-up was too slow or that final pass let us down, I felt we built it up from the back very well, but we lacked that killer instinct. At international level, we have to create and we have to [do it] pretty soon.”

Nonetheless, the 30-year-old Bournemouth midfielder suggested patience was required, as the squad grows accustomed to Stephen Kenny’s style of play.

“It’s tough for the manager, he’s had the best part of four days. Two days before our first game and I think for our side, you can see we’re trying to change the style of football and long-term, it’s the way forward.

“The manager has only had a couple of days to work with the players, but we’ll be stronger for these last two games.

We’ve got a lot of new faces in the squad. The front three, obviously Callum [O'Dowda]‘s been with us a few times, but the [other] two lads up top [Aaron Connolly and Adam Idah], two fantastic prospects who the manager has worked well with at U21 level. I feel their qualities are what we lacked in recent years, to be honest — directness and pace. We just have to bed them in and it’s a tough ask for this group of a players — a new manager, hardly any pre-season games behind us as a group and as individuals.

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“I feel it’s moving in the right direction. The young lads coming through have got such a bright future.”

Brady, who started alongside Arter in midfield, echoed his team-mate’s sentiments.

“We’ve had a good week’s work. It’s just disappointing we didn’t put some points on the board and get the result for everyone involved.

“It’s going to be a quick turnaround before the next [game], and the more we work with this coaching staff and this manager, the best can come out of us.

“It’s difficult when someone puts a new stamp on it and changes things up with different sorts of gameplans, but it’s not just that. It’s still pre-season, the lads are only back a couple of weeks and some of us are only playing together for the first time, although we’ve been together for a while. But there are no excuses, we wanted to come in and pick up some points in this break.

“It’s going to be a quick turnaround and a very important game to come next. We’ll be looking to make things right and show the best of us.

Looking ahead to next month’s Euro play-off semi-final in Bratislava, Brady added: “I think everyone should make sure they get themselves right, get as much minutes as they can. The only positive tonight was the lads getting 90 minutes into the legs and pushing towards 100% fitness.”

About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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