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Richard Dunne (left) congratulates goalscorer John O'Shea. Picture: PA

Richard Dunne (left) congratulates goalscorer John O'Shea. Picture: PA

Richard Dunne (left) congratulates goalscorer John O'Shea. Picture: PA

RICHARD DUNNE insists that he will exit the international stage if he feels he is blocking the progress of younger players, but the QPR man has no immediate plans to quit international football.

Dunne returned from suspension to win his 80th senior cap in last night's win at home to Kazakhstan, and he delivered an assured performance alongside John O'Shea in central defence, even having a part in the Waterford man's goal which gave Ireland a 2-1 lead.

Though he's in superb form with QPR in the Championship, time is not on Dunne's side as he will be close to his 35th birthday when the qualifiers for Euro 2016 come around.

"I would like to be in France in 2016, it could be on holidays, but I'd love to be there with the Irish team for the finals," Dunne told the Herald.

"There is always this clamour at the end of a campaign, players wondering if they should retire or players being asked 'why don't you retire?'. But why should we quit, if we are getting picked? It's up to the manager, if he comes in and wants have a chat with people then that's fair enough and I won't stand in the way of another player.

 

Progressing

"You see the young players we have coming through, I think we all feel as a group that we have a chance of progressing.

"But I still want to play for Ireland, it will be up to the manager to make that call.

"I have to wait and see who comes in and if the new manager wants me around. But I have done a lot of hard work to get back fit. I know that the team has changed over time, it would be great to be part of it into the future, and if not I have really enjoyed myself.

"It's going really well for me club-wise and I want to carry on my form," added Dunne, now considering whether to make a stab at qualification for Euro 2016, which would be his eighth campaign with the national team.

"We have been here before, where we had a campaign that didn't go so well but from that we rebuilt with a slightly different squad.

"We have that now and when the campaign starts again in September we will have more experience, a squad more comfortable at this level, and into the next campaign and the one after that we can look to qualify."

With the World Cup campaign now consigned to history, the debate moves on and if there are friendly games to be played next month – still not confirmed but an away date, in Poland, is possible – there is no guarantee that a new manager will be in place.

However, Dunne, who made his senior debut way back in 2000, feels that the FAI have to move fast.

"You want to try and get the new manager in and the team set up as quickly as possible, hopefully they can come to an agreement with whoever they choose, whoever the FAI pick I am sure they will do a good job," says Dunne. "We have a lot of young lads who had their first qualifying campaign this time around and they will learn from that and we should have a good chance of qualifying."

Dunne and O'Shea were rarely tested last night – bar that stunning goal from Dmitry Shomko – and the 34-year-old was pleased with the night's work. "It was a good performance from everyone. It hasn't been the best of campaigns but we finished it well last night, it was an enjoyable few days working with Noel," Dunne said.

"Their goal was a cracker, probably the best goal of the night and it was a bit sloppy from us, but the best thing was the reaction from us. That was what the manager said, to make sure that if something does go wrong on the night that we stick together as a team, and we did that.

"We have known for a long time that creating chances is a problem for Ireland. The team who played three games at Euro 2012 but scored just one goal, and that from a set-piece."

Of course set-pieces played a role last night', with a penalty handing Ireland the equaliser and then the lead goal coming from a corner, though Ireland's third goal was created by some superb skill from Aiden McGeady.

But for Dunne, the sight of players like Andy Reid and Wes Hoolahan in the side is a good omen. "The delivery that we have in the team is great, Andy Reid coming back and then when Wes came on, we thought we might have an advantage there and we got a couple of goals from it.

"For the second goal, John O'Shea was in the right place at the right time. He did well and I think that was only his second goal for Ireland, it was a good finish."


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