McCarthy 'immensely proud' of Irish players on another nearly-night

The Irish manager stressed the positives as his side now head for the play-offs.

Mick McCarthy at full time.
Mick McCarthy at full time.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

MICK MCCARTHY HAILED his Irish side’s performance in a 1-1 draw with Denmark that left them just short of qualifying for Euro 2020. 

Ireland needed a win to seal progression tonight and avoid relying on the Nations League play-offs next March, but Matt Doherty’s late equaliser ultimately went unmatched by a late winner. 

“I am immensely proud of the players the way they performed tonight and even more so when we went 1-0 down”, McCarthy told his post-match press conference.

“But it was a poor goal to give away, Doc [Matt Doherty] says it was his man, it was on him, but he has gone and scored the equaliser so I will forgive him slightly. I was giving out to him about the goal and I forgot to congratulate him for the goal he scored, so I will go back in there and do that.

“I’m very disappointed but very proud of the lads, they were great.

“I thought we played well, I thought we competed well and I said before the game if they leave everything on the pitch and give everything for me, I would take that.

“I’m disappointed with the result, but that is the only thing I am disappointed with across the whole week.”

Scoring goals has been Ireland’s biggest problem in this campaign – Doherty’s was just their seventh in eight games – but McCarthy said tonight’s was the kind of performance that can yield a better return in front of goal. 

“They have more chance of coming if we play like that. How many goals have we scored, seven? Out of eight games? That’s quite clearly not clinical enough. But we don’t get beat in too many games, and maybe a bit of luck, a bounce of the ball at the end, we nick it. Who knows. Had we nicked it, we’d have deserved it.” 

McCarthy threw on strikers Callum Robinson and Seani Maguire as he chased the game late on, although was denied a third attacking change as John Egan had to be replaced by Ciaran Clark at half-time due to injury. 

“I tried to jig the subs so I could keep hold of one, and put the shape of the team as I did.

“Glenn Whelan, who was excellent then had to come off, and we were winging it completely at that stage. John Egan was injured and I had to replace him with a centre back, it’s unfortunate really.” 

Gavin Cooney
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Ireland must now win two, one-legged play-offs next March to qualify for a Euros they will co-host. The identity of their opponents will be clearer by tomorrow night, with Wales, Slovakia, and Bosnia among the potential challenges ahead. The draw will be held this Friday. 

“I have three months to prepare for that”, said McCarthy.

“We’ll see who we get and I’ll plan for it when we get it.

“If we play the way we are playing and play as good as that against other teams, we can beat them.”

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