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Self-critical Connolly frustrated by 'selfish' moments in Ireland's defeat to Finland

The Boys in Green are still searching for their first win under Stephen Kenny after losing in Helsinki.

Republic of Ireland's Aaron Connolly looking dejected in the aftermath of the loss to Finland.
Republic of Ireland's Aaron Connolly looking dejected in the aftermath of the loss to Finland.
Image: PA

AARON CONNOLLY DIDN’T spare himself in his assessment of the Republic of Ireland’s defeat to Finland this evening in the Uefa Nations League.

Ireland are still searching for their first win of Stephen Kenny’s reign after the hosts capitalised on a mistake by Darren Randolph to score the game’s only goal through Fredrik Jensen on 66 minutes.

Over six hours have now passed since Ireland last scored a goal, but they did have their chances. Enda Stevens hit the crossbar before Finland went ahead, and late headers from Matt Doherty and Ronan Curtis brought excellent saves out of Lukas Hradecky.

Over the course of the 90 minutes, Connolly looked the most likely Ireland player to find the net. However, the Brighton & Hove Albion striker was self-critical afterwards.

“Selfish at times,” was his assessment of his performance in an interview with Sky Sports. “I probably should have squared one to Daryl [Horgan]. I tried to go at a tight angle and it’s those sort of moments that cost us the game.

“I need to start looking at that side of my game and just game awareness really. It has cost us, I think.”

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He added: “Obviously as a striker you need to be selfish, but at times you need to know when to shoot and when to pass. It’s just one of those where I thought at the time that the best thing was to shoot. Looking back on it, I definitely should have squared it.”

Doherty and Curtis both went close to snatching a point for Ireland in the dying moments, but Connolly reckoned Ireland were worthy of a first-ever Nations League victory

“I think we deserved to win that game,” the 20-year-old said. “I’m not even sure what happened for the goal, obviously we’ve lost it at the back and they’ve punished us.

“It’s disappointing. It’s another game that we haven’t scored in. You feel like there’s going to be a break some time for us and we’ll put one in, but it just doesn’t look like it’s coming at the minute.”

The game marked a belated fifth senior cap for Connolly, who was ruled out of last week’s European Championship play-off defeat to Slovakia, as well as Sunday’s draw with Wales in the Nations League, due to being a close contact of the Ireland backroom staff member who returned a Covid-19 test that transpired to be a false positive.

The Galway native said of the episode: “I don’t want to go into it too much, but to miss a game like that [against Slovakia] – I might never get a chance to play in a game like that again – it’s frustrating and I can’t really put into words how frustrating it actually is.” 

About the author:

Paul Dollery

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