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Dublin: 10 °C Thursday 24 October, 2019

'It would be disappointing if we didn’t come away with six points'

Irish legend Richard Dunne isn’t getting lost in the ‘one game at a time’ cliché.

Richard Dunne.
Richard Dunne.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

Updated Mar 22nd 2019, 7:54 AM

WHILE MICK MCCARTHY has been understandably keen to avoid the prospect of idle minds neglecting tomorrow’s game against Gibraltar in order to focus on Tuesday’s home clash with Georgia, those outside the camp can afford to take a wider view. 

One such figure is Richard Dunne, who believes that it is vital Ireland begin the campaign with two wins out of two in order to steel themselves for the upcoming challenges of Switzerland and Denmark. 

“I think it’s a given really that we will be aiming for six from six”, Dunne told The42.

“Every team in the group will be going to Gibraltar to win and with the Georgia game being at home, I think it would be disappointing if we didn’t come away with six points.” 

Given that Ireland are third seeds in a five-team group, the incipient double-header is the only one in which they’ll play consecutive games against sides ranked below them. 

While both Switzerland and Denmark are strong opposition – the Swiss are perennial qualifiers, while the Danes have recently taken up residence in the darker parts of our memories  – Dunne believes neither opponents are to be feared. 

“They are tough games but if you can get off to that good start it just gives you confidence going into it.

We know that there will be tougher games as the group goes along but hopefully the other teams will be looking at us as well, thinking ‘they are off to a good start’, so Ireland’s going to be a tough game for us as well.

“The teams in the group are strong, solid sides but they are not teams that I think we have to massively fear.

“We’re not a million miles away from their level so I don’t think we have reason to be fearful and this is a good opportunity.” 

Switching attention to the more immediate challenge of Gibraltar on Saturday evening, Dunne believes a good result and a vibrant performance is vital in stirring the Aviva’s sleeping ears to cheer on Tuesday night. 

Given last year’s miserable fare, the ground was often deathly silent, and the last Irish game at the ground ended in a cascade of boos for the now-ousted Martin O’Neill. 

“I think the whole thing is sort of down in the dumps”, says Dunne.

“We’re not scoring goals, we’re not exciting the fans.

“But we have a great opportunity to score some goals against Gibraltar and excite the fans, and let it spill into the Georgia game

If you get off to a good start, fans will come back and the momentum grows. It’s such a short period of games, once you get on a run it can last six months and that can be enough to see us through to the finals.

“A lot of it is down to the players and how they are seen by the fans. If Mick can do what he did in 2002 and he can build that camaraderie among the group and let them grow as people, and have fun and enjoy themselves, then the fans will see it on the pitch.

“We have to make sure we are as positive as possible.”  

Murray Kinsella and Andy Dunne dissect Ireland’s disappointing Six Nations campaign, and discuss the pros and cons of rugby’s new law proposals in the latest episode of The42 Rugby Weekly:

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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Gavin Cooney

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