'It's disappointing for the way it finished for me but I'll hold my head up high' - Shane Duffy
Published 27/06/2016 | 10:52
Shane Duffy is hungry for more after cutting his teeth in international football at the Euro 2016 finals.
The 24-year-old Blackburn defender was handed his competitive debut and just his fourth senior cap for the Republic of Ireland in the 1-0 victory over Italy which booked them a mouth-watering last 16 clash with hosts France.
But ecstasy turned to agony for Duffy within four days when he was sent off as Didier Deschamps' men came from behind to beat Ireland 2-1 at the Stade de Lyon on Sunday to end their adventure.
However, having embarked upon the steepest of learning curves, the former Everton trainee is desperate to continue his education.
Duffy said: "I felt like I could play at this level. I felt comfortable out there. I feel like I have done all right, but the red card hasn't helped me.
"I have tried to make a challenge for the ball. It's difficult because if I don't make it or if I leave it they score. It's football. It's a matter of inches.
"It was difficult for me, but I feel like I can play here. It's been a great experience for me coming in so late. To play a part is special."
Duffy's moment of destiny came with the game rapidly slipping away from the Republic, who had taken a shock second-minute lead through Robbie Brady's penalty.
Antoine Griezmann headed France level with 58 minute gone and then fired them in front just three minutes later.
As Ireland wilted, the Atletico Madrid forward burst through the cover once again and looked certain to complete his hat-trick when he was upended by Duffy's desperate challenge, which left Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli with little choice.
But while the memories of his dejected trudge from the pitch may sting for a few days, the defender will learn the lessons of his first major tournament finals, and will always have the memories of the part he played in a glorious win against Italy.
He said: "The Italian game was special to make it through the group. It's special to be here in such a big game on the world stage and to play a part in it.
"It's disappointing for the way it finished for me in the second half. I'll stay positive after it, I'll hold my head up high after it and learn from my mistakes and try to do better next time."