Shane Duffy is confident the Republic of Ireland have put their World Cup nightmare at the hands of Denmark firmly behind them as they prepare to meet again with Euro 2020 qualification at stake.
The Danes will head for the Aviva Stadium on November 18 with the winners – barring an unlikely turn of events which would leave the pair and Group D rivals Switzerland locked together on 15 points – securing their passage to next summer’s finals.
As the game approaches, minds will inevitably be cast back to the World Cup play-off between the sides two years ago when, having drawn 0-0 in Copenhagen and taken the lead in Dublin through Duffy’s early header, Ireland capitulated to lose 5-1.
However, the Brighton defender said: “We’ve moved on from that now. We’re a different team, a different manager, so hopefully we’ll go there and we’re quite confident in front of our home fans.
“One more final game at home and we know if we win, we’re there.”
The Republic had a chance to ensure their participation in a third-successive European tournament finals with victory in Switzerland on Tuesday evening, all the while knowing there would be a second chance if they came up short.
In the event, they went down 2-0 at the Stade de Geneva on a night when Haris Seferovic’s early strike and Duffy’s late own goal either side of a red card for skipper Seamus Coleman – he will be suspended for the Denmark game as a result – and Darren Randolph’s penalty save from Ricardo Rodriguez saw the Swiss run out 2-0 winners.
Vladimir Petkovic’s men, who are currently ranked 11th in the world, closed to within a point of Ireland as a result and know wins over Georgia and Gibraltar next month will be enough for them.
Duffy said: “It’s a tough group. I always have high standards and wanted to win tonight and get through, but it’s not the case.
⏰ RESULTS ⏰— UEFA EURO 2020 (@UEFAEURO) October 15, 2019
“We know it was quite a tough group and the three teams were going to be battling for the two (places). At least we’re in with a chance, and I think we can do it.”
The defeat in Geneva was Ireland’s first of the campaign, although coming three days after a disappointing 0-0 draw in Georgia, it proved all the more painful.
Duffy said: “We’ve been up and down. Obviously we’ve been getting the results, but I think we’ve got more quality in us, so hopefully at the Aviva, we can get it rocking and finally beat Denmark.
“A little bit of revenge, hopefully.”
Not the win we wanted tonight which is disappointing. Proud off @AaronConnolly_9 tonight making his Ireland debut many more to come ! Thanks to the fans who made the long journey once again 🇮🇪☘️ pic.twitter.com/WELHBRX5MF— Shane Duffy (@shaneduffy) October 12, 2019
One positive from a difficult few days for Mick McCarthy’s men was the emergence as a genuine senior international player of Duffy’s club colleague Aaron Connolly.
The 19-year-old striker, who shone as a late substitute on his debut in Tbilisi, was handed a first start against the Swiss and – although it proved as trying an evening for him as for the rest of his team-mates – Duffy is convinced he will have a significant role to play in the future.
He said: “We’ve got to be patient with him. It was his first start and it’s no tougher in this group than away to Switzerland, so there’s plenty more to come from him.
“Hopefully he’ll keep banging them in for Brighton now and in November, hopefully he’s still firing and ready for another big one.”
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