Sammon clings to fading hopes
Published 28/03/2013 | 11:36
Conor Sammon is refusing to admit defeat in Ireland's quest for World Cup qualification.
The 26-year-old striker made his first competitive start for his country in Tuesday night's clash with Austria, and was within seconds of marking his bow with a precious victory when the visitors snatched a 2-2 draw at the death.
That denied Ireland the chance to climb into second place in Group C and left them knowing they now have little margin for error if they are to stand a chance of making it to Brazil via the play-offs, but while disappointed to have emerged from the trip to Sweden and the Austrians' visit to Dublin with just two points, Sammon is adamant that the return is not fatal.
He said: "It's definitely disappointing to come away with just a point, and two points from the two big games. Obviously, the league is very tight. We know we still have to play Austria away and Sweden here as well, so there are still lots of points to play for.
"As a group, we just need to try to be positive and just take it one game at a time and try to move forward."
Asked if Ireland could still qualify despite the setback, he said: "I definitely think so. There's no reason why we can't."
Sammon was manager Giovanni Trapattoni's surprise choice to replace injured skipper Robbie Keane for the clash with Austria amid a growing clamour for Wes Hoolahan to be given a chance to bring his invention to the team.
The 74-year-old Italian manager opted for the former Kilmarnock and Wigan man's brawn and pace, and his partnership with West Brom's Shane Long caused the visitors problems at times.
Sammon said: "I was pleased with how I did. I tried to put myself about. The manager obviously had said to me before the game to try to be a physical presence and win flick-ons for Shane's pace in behind, and I really enjoyed it, and then dropping on and trying to help the team out in the second half.
"I was delighted to make my first competitive start like that, it's just unfortunate that it ended in a disappointing way."