'We've got that character in us where we don't give up' - Duffy points to Ireland's spirit as key to Euro hopes
For Shane Duffy, the quality of Ireland's football matters less than the quantity of the points amassed in the Euro 2020 qualifiers. Like so many Irish players, Duffy found the going hard at times against Switzerland at the Aviva Stadium on Thursday. But they dug in and a vital point was earned by David McGoldrick's leveller.
A win would have seen Ireland put a foot in the Euro finals, in which they would have two matches at the Aviva Stadium - but it was not to be. In fact, it never looked like being. The Swiss were the better side and it was McGoldrick's late goal that saved Ireland from a defeat that would have left them with their backs against the qualifying wall.
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"You want to win, we were at home, but you've got to respect Switzerland as well, they are a very good team," said Duffy. "I think it's a better point for us than them. It's something to build on, we're still unbeaten and I think it's a good start to the group.
"Thursday was similar to Denmark away," he continued. "We've got that character in us where we don't give up. We watched their game where they were 3-0 up against Denmark and they drew it, so we kept believing there might be something there for us, that they can concede goals late on. We kept believing. That's the spirit we've always had. We might not have played the best but we got the result. I thought we deserved that point."
That spirit and desire was evident in Duffy's warm words for McGoldrick, who finally got an international goal at the 11th attempt.
"I'm delighted for him. He's waited a long time to get a run in the team. David is the best player in training every day. If it was going on and on, it could have affected him if he didn't get a goal. But he deserved it, he's been brilliant.
"He's a great lad. I think you saw everyone in the celebration when he scored, everyone wanted him to score so bad, just because of what he does off the ball for the team. You saw him in the 85th minute sliding into a tackle at right-back. That's what you need from a centre forward when the going is hard for the team."
The three matches in the section where Ireland, Switzerland and Denmark have played each other have all ended in draws - there are three more head-to-heads to come, with each team having one home tie and one away tie.
It's all to play for, but equally it is now a group where one loss could be enough to condemn Ireland to third place, and clinging to the hope of somehow scraping into one of the play-offs from the Nations League. "Don't get too far now," Duffy warns, "it's game by game for us and always will be.
"But we're still in a building process with Mick. He still has to look at other players - he hasn't had a chance to do it. I mean his first match back in charge (away to Gibraltar) was a competitive one, so Tuesday (friendly versus Bulgaria) is a chance for people."
Sunday Indo Sport