Belfast Telegraph

Mick's enthusiasm can help Republic find the winning groove, insists Duffy

 

Well done: Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy with Shane Duffy after the game against Georgia
Well done: Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy with Shane Duffy after the game against Georgia
David Kelly

By David Kelly

To Shane Duffy, the parallels must have seemed appropriately grim.

His Brighton side were seemingly capable of producing the big results when it mattered, as an FA Cup semi-final run amply illustrated, but the general theme was one of stasis, if not slowly inclining inertia, as the club slipped further and further into relegation trouble.

Something needed to change if the results and performances did not. As is the wont of the modern game, the manager, in this case Chris Hughton, bore the brunt even though he and his side limped to safety in the final weeks.

Duffy would have experienced the same feeling when he briefly detoured to Republic of Ireland duty under Martin O'Neill. A heralded manager, unable to halt a terminal decline, even if occasionally capable of producing a key result which, rather than stemming the trend, actually tended to amplify its downward spiral.

Mick McCarthy has already produced the predictable, if often inexplicable, new manager bounce.

And now? Duffy is "shocked" at Hughton's departure - "one of the biggest influences on my career" - but remains realistic.

"The owner wanted to go down a different route and maybe it's down to the style of play. You see Wolves and what they can do, Burnley last year. We're hoping we can be one of them and maybe a new change might be good," he says.

Again, the parallels with the Republic are striking. "I wouldn't have called it a darkness," he says, prompted to reflect on managerial change in green.

"They were just tough times when everything was going against us. But obviously the new manager came in and gave us all a fresh start. Mick brings that with his character. So it's all good at the moment, although we all know how football can suddenly turn. We just keep trying to play our game."

Tomorrow night against Denmark will be a more representative test of McCarthy's re-modelled outfit, for all the enterprise demonstrated against Georgia. The sides have been evenly matched in their regular recent meetings, save, of course, the 5-1 Dublin drubbing two years ago which spelled the beginning of the end for O'Neill.

Duffy, who scored the opening goal that night, said: "It was an horrific night, probably the worst of my career. The feeling afterwards in the dressing room was horrific. But you have to feel that and then say, 'don't let that happen again'. You have to learn from those nights.

"That was a tough one for us and it carried into the next campaign where it killed us for a while. So hopefully it's a new fresh start now, which is what we wanted. Because you get back that winning mentality when you are winning games."

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