SHANE DUFFY HAS admitted that the Republic of Ireland are currently stuck in a rut, but the Brighton & Hove Albion defender is adamant that they can dig themselves out under the guidance of Martin O’Neill.
Ireland are on course to finish at the bottom of their group in the inaugural Uefa Nations League after last night’s 1-0 defeat to a Wales team that didn’t include several key players, such as Real Madrid attacker Gareth Bale and Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey.
Another disappointing result for the Boys in Green means they’re likely to be pushed down to the third seeding pot for the Euro 2020 qualifying draw, as well as being relegated to League C for the next edition of the Nations League.
There remains a faint hope of avoiding that prospect if they can record an unlikely win away to Denmark next month. However, the Danes have to lose in Cardiff three days earlier in order for there to be anything at stake when O’Neill’s side visit Aarhus.
“Obviously it hasn’t been good enough for our standards and where we’ve been in the last few years,” Duffy said after last night’s game at the Aviva Stadium, which was settled by Harry Wilson’s second-half free-kick.
“It’s a bit of a low one at the minute. We’ve just got to pick ourselves up, regroup and have that never-say-die attitude. We’ve got to go again.”
With Ireland taking just one point from a possible nine so far in this campaign, the pressure is increasing on Ireland boss Martin O’Neill and his assistant Roy Keane. The team’s only victory in their last nine outings was a 2-1 friendly win against USA in June.
Expressing the view that the buck stops with the players, Duffy dismissed any suggestion that the management’s jobs are under threat due to the run of poor form.
He said: “It’s us out there [on the pitch]. It’s not them. It’s us playing. It’s players’ responsibility to go out and perform. They can tell us what to do but it’s up to us to do it. We’ve obviously let them down.
“The players have to take responsibility and put it right. It’s obviously not good enough. I wouldn’t blame them. They’re not out there. It’s down to us. That’s the main thing. We’ve got to look at ourselves.”
Duffy, who had a header from a first-half corner saved by Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, also insisted that the Ireland players aren’t suffering from a lack of confidence as a result of their current travails.
“I wouldn’t say that. I think we played quite well tonight at times. It was just disappointing that we didn’t get one in the back of the net early on. It probably would have been a different game.
“We’re in a little rut at the minute where we’re not really winning the way we used to by grinding out results. It’s hard at the minute so we’ve just got to pick ourselves up and go again. We won’t be beaten just now. We’ve just got to come back and keep going.”
Subscribe to our new podcast, Heineken Rugby Weekly on The42, here: