Thursday 30 March 2017

Vienna role proves so sweet for Harry's game

Arter: Competitive debut. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Arter: Competitive debut. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Aidan Fitzmaurice

Aidan Fitzmaurice

Harry Arter wasn't even born the last time Ireland won a qualifier away from home against a higher-ranked nation, so the historic nature of Saturday's win in Austria is not something that bears down on the 26-year-old.

Making his competitive international debut was more of an occasion for Arter to celebrate, but the fact that Ireland head into 2017 on top of the Group D table - with Austria now all but out of contention after the defeat - is even more reason for the Bournemouth man to beam a large smile.

"It should be a good moment for the country," he said.

"We didn't have a great record here in Austria, in fact it was a very poor record, so it's good to get a result. It puts us in a great position, and puts them in a lot of trouble for the rest of the qualifying campaign.

"You looked at the group and you probably would have viewed them as one of the favourites, so it's great to take the three points.

"That has backed up a few good results before this game, so everything's looking good at the moment," added Arter of the win, Ireland's first away qualifying victory over a major nation since Scotland in 1987.

"There wasn't really much talk of that, if I'm being honest.

"I think naturally it's just going to be a tough game regardless of the past. If we had come to Austria and won in each of the past 10 years it wasn't going to actually make Saturday night any easier or more difficult.

"So I don't think that had too much effect on it, but it is nice to change what had gone on in the past and get a positive result."

For team-mate Shane Duffy, winning the group is now a very realistic target for an Ireland side who have enjoyed their best start to a qualifying campaign in 22 years.

"That's what we're aiming for. Obviously if we fall short it's the play-offs. That's where we want to be - one of the top two spots," said Duffy.

"It's a very, very difficult group and anyone can beat anyone. The next couple of fixtures are so important to see who tops the group.

"It's a good start, but that's all it is. It is a long break until Wales in March now, but every team is in the same position.

"Everyone will focus on their club football and we just hope everyone is fit when we come back.

"Everyone will be itching to come in and try and play a massive game against Wales," added Duffy.

Irish Independent

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