Ireland’s Shane Duffy dejected at the final whistle. Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Duffy: Ireland will qualify for Euros if they repeat Danish performance in March

The Brighton defender was remaining optimistic after last night’s setback.

SHANE DUFFY BELIEVES Ireland will qualify for Euro 2020 if they can maintain the level of performance they delivered against Denmark last night.

Despite the 1-1 draw ending Ireland’s hopes of automatic qualification, the Brighton defender believes the team can take encouragement from the display, as they prepare for a play-off semi-final with either Wales, Bosnia or Slovakia.

Asked whether they could prevail in the play-offs if they emulate last night’s display, Duffy replied: “Yes, of course. We try to play like that every game, to be honest, but it’s easier said than done. We’ve just got to keep everyone fit until March and playing well at club level.

“But that’s the benchmark, we have got to stay at that level now, energy, even passing the ball, playing, if it’s not on, we come back out, the simple basics which we’ve worked on.

“I thought we pressed them quite well and they didn’t get their game going, really, and that’s the benchmark.

“Whoever we get in March, we’ve got to do that again.”

Duffy felt the Irish team deserved more from the game itself, with the visitors struggling to create chances before their goal and a late rally nearly seeing Ireland produce a comeback win.

“We weren’t even thinking about [the play-offs]. We were trying to stay positive all week in camp and we were, and I think the performance was better tonight. I think we showed that we we believed that we could win the game.

“But at this high level of international football, one miscommunication or one lack of concentration and it’s a goal, and that’s just a true example tonight of it [for the Denmark goal].

“On another night, we could have got one and it’s disappointing to take. It wasn’t for the lack of effort, as always, from us.

“But I’m trying to stay positive. We’re still in it, we’re not out and we’ve got to do it the hard way, like we always do.”

Duffy also paid tribute to the sold-out crowd. As the game reached its climax, the noise in the stadium was deafening, as the majority of those in attendance cheered the team on as they went in search for an elusive winning goal.

“Everyone knew the importance of the game and the Aviva was rocking. They kept us going from the first to the last minute, even stayed after — it was brilliant.

I think they understand. When we play well, they give you credit. We’ve had our critics at times this season, which was deserved as well, but I thought they were brilliant tonight.

“Hopefully we can give them what they deserve and get them there in the summer.”

It was a momentous night too for Duffy in a personal sense, as he captained the team in the absence of the suspended Seamus Coleman.

“It was huge. I tried not to think about it, to be honest. My family were very proud and stuff like that, I’d swap it all for a win, but it was obviously a special night.

“It doesn’t feel special at the minute because we didn’t get through, but it’s something I’ll always be proud to say to my kids when they grow up.”

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