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'Beat Slovakia and we will qualify' - Mick McCarthy optimistic ahead of Euro play-off

McCarthy believes the momentum secured by a play-off semi-final win would propel Ireland to Euro 2020

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The kids are alright: Ireland manager Mick McCarthy with Larkin Community College students (l-r) Isabelle Baker, Adrian Lucaci, Remis Galiceanu and Alisha Rose Sammy at INTERSPORT Elverys, Henry Street in Dublin. McCarthy, however, has said he is likely to rely on experience for the play-off against Slovakia. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

The kids are alright: Ireland manager Mick McCarthy with Larkin Community College students (l-r) Isabelle Baker, Adrian Lucaci, Remis Galiceanu and Alisha Rose Sammy at INTERSPORT Elverys, Henry Street in Dublin. McCarthy, however, has said he is likely to rely on experience for the play-off against Slovakia. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

The kids are alright: Ireland manager Mick McCarthy with Larkin Community College students (l-r) Isabelle Baker, Adrian Lucaci, Remis Galiceanu and Alisha Rose Sammy at INTERSPORT Elverys, Henry Street in Dublin. McCarthy, however, has said he is likely to rely on experience for the play-off against Slovakia. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Mick McCarthy is certain that Ireland will qualify for Euro 2020 if they are able to do the business in Slovakia.

The Ireland manager feels that the momentum generated by a success in Bratislava on March 26 would be enough to carry them through another away day five days later, even if that involves a trip to face Northern Ireland in Windsor Park.

Northern Ireland are in Bosnia on the same night that Slovakia host McCarthy's charges, opening up the prospect of a Belfast showdown should both results go the way of the travellers. McCarthy has stressed his belief that one big win would lead to another.

"We all know it's hard, we can sit here and waffle about it all day long, but we've got to believe we can," said the Irish boss, when asked about the difficulty of stringing together two major performances on the road.

"The first one is the key one. If we win the first one, I think we'll win the second one. We'll get momentum and we'll win the second one. But we've got to beat Slovakia first and they are no mugs by any stretch."

McCarthy said there's no reason to be fearful of an all-Ireland showdown where his team would have to cope with a partisan home crowd.

"I'm not going to be intimidated going to Windsor Park to be quite honest. And I don't think the players are going to be, because if we end up playing them, it means we've beaten Slovakia.

"If (Ireland's senior players) are getting intimidated by going anywhere then we've got a real problem. It might be the case if we've got kids playing."

VAR will be on hand for the March play-offs, the first time that the system has been available for a game involving Ireland.

It was put to McCarthy that it might help to compensate for the absence of home advantage in the sense that all decisions will have to be scrutinised regardless of crowd pressures.

"I'm not completely against VAR, just how it's being used at the moment," he said, with a reference to the harshness of some marginal offside calls.

"I do think there has been some great decisions by it and the right team should win if the decision is right.

"We might not have been in this position (with VAR) because (against) Switzerland, I think, one of our lads might have been offside (for David McGoldrick's equaliser) but equally, we might have had a penalty because there was a handball.

"It is what it is. It's there. I can't do anything about it. I'm hoping it (the story) is VAR helped us and that Mick McCarthy is very lucky because he's been giving VAR stick for all this year and then it helped him qualify with two great decisions."

Irish Independent