Republic of Ireland's Shane Duffy greets fans after the international friendly match at Szusza Ferenc Stadium, Budapest. PA

'I sort of forgot what it felt like to play football. Hopefully that's the bad part over'

Shane Duffy was named man of the match for his performance tonight.

SHANE DUFFY reflected on a positive end to a disappointing season after Ireland’s 0-0 draw with Hungary in Budapest tonight.

The 29-year-old centre-back was named man of the match by RTÉ for his display, making a couple of important clearances and interceptions to keep the Hungarians at bay.

“It was am important game for Ireland of course, every game is,” he told RTÉ. “I was delighted to be back out playing football again and another positive result — keep building the process and keep believing in it. It’s another game unbeaten so we’ll just try to build on it.”

The Derry native has endured a difficult campaign, with his loan spell at Celtic proving unsuccessful.

Duffy’s indifferent club form means he is no longer an automatic starter for Ireland, but he was restored to the starting XI tonight and repaid his manager’s faith with a solid performance.

He consequently acknowledged the hard time he has been having of late, and thanked Stephen Kenny for continuing to rely on him, with tonight the first time he has completed 90 minutes at senior level since a Celtic match back in February.

“It’s always tough when you go through a tough spell — most footballers do at some part of their career. I’ve went through it. I’ve got a great manager who trusts me. I’ve got no complaints about not playing in the team [previously]. I try to play my role, trying to help the younger lads when I haven’t been playing football. So I’ve total belief and thanks to the manager for giving me a game, first and foremost. I enjoyed it again. I sort of forgot what it felt like to play football. Hopefully that’s the bad part over. Another rest and I’ll be ready to be back next season, kick on and show everyone how good I am again.” 

Kenny deployed a back three again, as he did in the World Cup qualifiers last March, having gone with a four-man defence against Andorra. And Duffy said he is comfortable playing as the right-sided centre-back.

“We’ve worked on it since probably the first game we’ve come in. The gaffer has been really flexible, he’s trying things. Everyone can see we’re trying a lot of new things with new players — different formations to be ready for the games in September. Hopefully, it was a positive performance. I thought we could have played better first half. We were a bit sloppy at times, but we have made chances. But they’re a good side, they’re going to the Euros and we wish them all the best.”

He also paid tribute to Ireland’s young goalkeeping duo, with both Gavin Bazunu and Caoimhin Kelleher impressing in the 45 minutes they had on the pitch respectively.

“Trav [Mark Travers] is there and we’ve got [Darren] Randolph at home as well. We’re really blessed in that position. We can trust every one of them. I’m happy I’m not the manager who’s picking it.”

On the Hungarian fans’ booing of Irish players taking the knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, Duffy added: “It’s a difficult time for everyone. We have our stances on it and we decided as a nation that we were going to do it, and we stand by that. Everyone’s got their opinions and hopefully, we made the right choice.”

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