Shane Duffy reckons Ireland team has its fighting spirit back under McCarthy

Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy with Shane Duffy after the Georgia game.
Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy with Shane Duffy after the Georgia game.

SHANE DUFFY believes the Republic of Ireland international team has got its 'Irish fighting spirit' back under new boss, Mick McCarthy.

The Derry man hailed a job well done after helping the Boys in Green to launch their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign with a maximum haul of six points.

Ireland followed up their unimpressive 1-0 win in Gibraltar on Saturday with victory by the same scoreline over Georgia at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday evening.

And the Brighton defender was delighted with the start to their campaign, claiming McCarthy has lifted the mood in the dressing room.

"He was just delighted," Duffy said of the new Ireland boss. "He wanted the Irish fighting spirit back and I think that's what we showed.

"Obviously we were under the cosh a little bit in the second half, but we stuck in there and ground it out in the end. I think we were the better team."

"We can only do what's in front of us. We've taken care of our first two games. No one really remembers the performances once you've got the win.

"It's a good start and now we can build on it. All of us are looking forward to coming back again. It's a fresh start for everyone.

"The players have got a new lift here and you could see that in some of the performances, which were superb. Exciting times, hopefully."

Victory over Georgia was secured by Conor Hourihane's 39th minute free-kick, which came after the game had been stopped briefly while dozens of tennis balls, thrown onto the pitch in a protest against outgoing Football Association of Ireland chief executive John Delaney, were removed.

Duffy admitted the tennis-ball incident had added a further dimension to the game, but with he and his team-mates having been forewarned about the possibility, they took it in their stride.

"It was a bit weird. I think we all sort of expected it to happen. We all read about it. We were hoping it wasn't going to happen, but we're professionals, we dealt with it and the best response was to put the ball in the net, which is what we did. That got the crowd going again.

"Everyone reads social media and newspapers these days. It happened. The fans have their opinions and rightly so. All we have to do is take care of our business on the pitch and hopefully it can distract them from whatever is going on."