Saturday 24 August 2019

Duffy points the way

'I don't think we could have asked for much more,' insists McCarthy as defender's towering header earns dramatic late draw

Shane Duffy celebrates after scoring an 85th minute equaliser to earn a 1-1 draw for Ireland against Denmark in Copenhagen. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Shane Duffy celebrates after scoring an 85th minute equaliser to earn a 1-1 draw for Ireland against Denmark in Copenhagen. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Mick McCarthy hailed the high standards of Shane Duffy as his header claimed a point from Copenhagen.

The Brighton defender's 85th-minute leveller sent the Irish camp home in good spirits after a difficult evening against their old foes from Denmark.

Duffy was a key figure at both ends of the pitch, and he was in the right place to dispatch a free-kick from sub Alan Judge as Ireland bounced back from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg's 76th-minute opener.

"We expect that from him," said McCarthy, "He gets his body in the way, he makes blocks and organises things and he's a very good defender. But he's also a threat in the box."

Home boss Age Hareide felt his team should have put the result beyond doubt after creating a host of chances prior to the breakthrough.

But he also believes that Ireland showed more attacking desire under McCarthy, with this encounter a contrast from last year's drab scoreless draws in the UEFA Nations League.

"All credit to Ireland, they were a lot more aggressive higher up the pitch," said Hareide.

"They are always difficult to play against, always difficult to beat. This was the same faces but a different footprint.

"I feel that they want to play more now. We created a lot of chances but you still have to put them away.

"Sometimes, football is cruel."

McCarthy admitted that his team survived some hairy moments, yet felt that the equaliser was due reward for their effort.

And he pointed to his side's determination to press on again and look for a winner after Duffy's goal, although that desire came at a cost with Judge breaking his wrist in injury time.

"They've shown that fighting spirit that Irish teams have in abundance," said the manager.

"I don't think anybody can outscrap us and outrun us. Can we be better with the ball? I think we could.

"We won the ball back a lot in the first half and gave it away fairly quickly. But I look at that team and there's a great bunch of lads and, with a bit of luck, we might qualify for the Euros.

"We want to try and get there, that's obviously the objective. Whether that's by trailblazing or hanging in, I'm not bothered, whichever one it is.

"I don't think we could have asked for much more out of the game.

"We made saves and blocks, and they missed a couple. But we had chances as well, of course. And we were still going in the 94th minute."

Group leaders Ireland are back in action on Monday when Gibraltar visit the Aviva Stadium.

Irish Independent

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