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Wednesday 13 November 2019

Teen star Aaron calls on 'passion' for big push against Danes

Jeff Hendrick
Jeff Hendrick

Teenager Aaron Connolly hopes that passion will be enough to get Ireland past Denmark next month and into the Euro 2020 finals despite a 2-0 loss to Switzerland in Geneva.

Connolly (19) made his full senior debut and had a testing night, the Galway lad starting up front but then moving to a wide position, a night when he was unable to get on the ball to test opposition keeper Yann Sommer.

"Passion, that's what's important. We know we can play and that can get us through. We will be ready for it," Connolly said when asked about the test against the Danes in Dublin.

"We still need just one win, taking on Denmark in that big game in Dublin next month.

Debut

"I have got my full debut but in my head it went a lot better.

"I'd like to think I did ok, it was a tough night out there. Switzerland are a good team, they pinned us back and it was hard for the boys in midfield, Jeff (Hendrick), Glenn Whelan and Alan Browne to get up there with them, so it was disappointing, but that's the way it goes sometimes," he added.

"We played well in the second half but the first half wasn't good enough. We've come away with nothing and can't really complain.

"The pitch was tough to play on, it was tough to get passes going.

"We're confident in every game so we believe we can get three points against Denmark and qualify.

"It's not too disappointing.

"I had to move positions in the team, but that's what you learn and it's part of football, the gaffer thought he'd bring me onto the left for a while to see what happens there, it's all a big learning curve for me."

Connolly came into the Ireland camp on the back of a two-goal blast on his full Premier League debut for Brighton and his hope is to stay in the side under boss Graham Potter before the squad meet up again.

"I'd like to think I have done enough to stay in the team but that's up to the gaffer, I need to keep working hard," Connolly added.

Jeff Hendrick saw his central midfield partner from the most recent games, Conor Hourihane, demoted to the bench but Burnely man Hendrick kept his place in the side for a testing evening.

"We moved the ball well but it was tough when we got into their final third. Maybe our final pass wasn't good enough and we need to improve on that," Hendrick said.

"Darren has kept us in games like this for years and he was brilliant again."

"We were pretty poor in the first half. We didn't keep the ball well enough and they kept it well.

"We wanted to put that right in the second half and we did that well. It wasn't enough but we go into the last game with something to play for."

Respect

Meanwhile, fellow midfielder Glenn Whelan admitted that the Irish side showed too much respect to the opposition before finally finding their feet, though without the end result of a goal.

"In the first half, we gave them a bit too much respect, we stood off them. In the second half, we had a go, and tried to get back in the game," Whelan said.

"Us, as Ireland, we need to do that all the time, we show teams too much respect and get sloppy on the ball. If we are on the front foot, and get the fans behind us, we'll give anyone a go.

"The first half wasn't good enough, we'll take a few positives from the second half.

"We're Ireland, we never do it easy. If you'd said to us at the start of the group we needed to win one of the last two games to qualify, we'd have taken it.

"We're still in with a chance and we'll give it a go."

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