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'I got goosebumps out there' - Man-of-the-match Duffy gives O'Neill something to think about

The Blackburn Rovers defender was a stand-out performer at centre-half in Ireland’s win over Switzerland tonight.

Duffy coming off the pitch tonight.
Duffy coming off the pitch tonight.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

HE MAY HAVE been earning only his second senior international cap tonight, but Shane Duffy didn’t look out of place at all at the heart of Ireland’s defence in their 1-0 win over Switzerland.

After providing the assist for Ciaran Clark’s winning goal with two minutes on the clock, 24-year-old Blackburn Rovers defender went on to give a confident performance at centre-half and earn himself the man-of-the-match award.

“It was enjoyable,” the Derryman said after the game. “It was frantic and we had to defend a lot at the end but we got the goal early so it was a good performance from us.

“They just played in front of us. Our midfield did a great job of the lads dropping in and we just kept a solid base. They couldn’t really break us down, Clarky made a good block and they had a few set pieces but that was it really.

“It was a solid performance and we dug it out in the end.”

The pair looked assured in front of Darren Randolph in a solid back five which was made up of captain Seamus Coleman and Robbie Brady in the full-back positions.

It’s early days but with John O’Shea in the twilight of his career and Marc Wilson regularly struggling with injuries, it could well be a partnership we see in future campaigns.

Understandably, however, Duffy isn’t getting ahead of himself.

“It was only one game but it was good as we clicked,” he said. “He plays on the left and I play on the right.

But listen we have so many good centre-halves here and it’s hard to even get close to the squad so I’m delighted to be in it now. You never know.”

After a frustrating few years at Everton, Duffy has found a home at Blackburn Rovers and is performing well on a weekly basis in the Championship.

For so long touted as a future regular in the green shirt, Duffy made his senior debut in June 2014 in a US friendly against Costa Rica but believes he is better-prepared for international football now.

“Yeah, I was more ready for it now than I was two years ago when I last played,” he added. “I’ve enjoyed it, playing in front of the Irish fans for the first time.

“I got goosebumps out there and it’s a day that I’ve dreamed of.

“It’s probably just consistency. I’m playing regularly and maturing as a centre-half. The way I play, the more games you play the better you get.

“I was very raw two years ago, I still am but I’m playing every week and I’m enjoying it. I’ve just come here to try and impress the manager and the players so you never know.”

Shane Duffy and Haris Seferovic Duffy and Haris Seferovic of Switzerland. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

With O’Neill picking his final 23-man squad for this summer’s European Championships in just over three months, Duffy accepts he has slim hopes of forcing his way into the plans but promises to keep working hard regardless.

“I’m probably miles off it but I’ve just got to go out there and see what we can do. I don’t know if the manager’s got his squad picked but all you can do is take your chance.

“Hopefully I’ve shown something to him, I’ve just tried to go out and enjoy putting the shirt on for Ireland.

“Everyone wants to play and the lads who got us to the Euros are there. They’ve done all the hard work so I can’t just come in. I’ve got to bide my time and if it’s not this one then it’s the next campaign.

“I’ve got to focus on club football and try to impress. I can’t just come in and take someone’s place.”

In the short term, he hopes to get more game time in Tuesday’s game against Slovakia.

“After that you want to just go again. I didn’t want to come off to be honest, I was just enjoying it.

“I wish we had played a bit better second half but defensively it was good for me. Yeah, Tuesday you never know but there are a lot of centre-halves. I don’t know what he (O’Neill) is going to do.”

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Ben Blake

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