Football/Soccer

Denmark is now our cup final: Republic of Ireland boss Mick McCarthy

Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy and Alan Browne at the end of the match during the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying match at the Stade de Geneve, Geneva

REPUBLIC of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy says next month’s showdown with Denmark in Dublin is their “cup final” - and admits his side will need to produce their best performance to beat the Danes and reach next summer’s Euro 2020 finals.

There was a palpable sense of gloom in the immediate aftermath of Tuesday night’s 2-0 defeat t0 Switzerland in Geneva, but a win over Denmark on Monday November 18 will see the Irish qualify.

“I’ve said at the very start, with us being third seed, I would have taken this,” McCarthy insisted.

“Everybody would have taken it. If you could have forgotten about all the other games and we’ll have a one-off game against Denmark on November 18, it would be brilliant.

“So, whatever we’ve done, and if we’ve lost a bit of momentum and not playing very well, it’s just a different game completely and we’ve all got to be up for it and play as well as we possibly can.”

The Republic were outclassed by the Swiss who needed to win to stay in contention. McCarthy opted to start with an unfamiliar 3-5-2 but reverted back to a flat back four after 30 minutes.

The Irish improved after the break but still never looked like breaching the home defence.

“There’ll be a build up to the Denmark game over the next month and I would hope it’s a full house and a partisan crowd. It is our cup final now. It’s a great opportunity for us at home.

“We’ll need to play to our best in Dublin. We’ll need a big performance because they are a good team.

“We’ve been underdogs in the tournament, we’ve been third seeds and that was the pecking order. It still is, we’re third seeds. If we beat Denmark and qualify then we’ll have over-achieved.”

A draw in Geneva would have created a very different dynamic entering the last couple of rounds of games in Group D.

In all likelihood, the Danes would have been qualified by the time they reached Dublin and Ireland would most probably have been facing a much weakened opponent.

A lack of goals is an obvious worry ahead of the Danish clash with McCarthy’s men mustering just six goals in seven games.

“We have been doing everything we possibly can to score goals in terms of training sessions and what we do. And we’ll continue to do that.”

Asked about the prospect of Southampton’s Shane Long returning to the fold, McCarthy said he would keep his options open.

“He’s got to be playing,” he said.

“He’d 70 minutes in the game before we met up so if he continues playing, then of course, I’ll consider him.”

Sheffield United striker David McGoldrick missed the Georgia and Switzerland games through injury but should be available for next month’s make-or-break showdown with Denmark.

Captain Seamus Coleman will miss the tie after picking up two yellow cards in Geneva but McCarthy has a ready-made replacement in Matt Doherty.

“Seamus is very down,” the manager said.

“He knows he can’t play in one of the biggest games that’s been around for a while, so he’s disappointed.”

Two years ago, the Danes came to the Irish capital and thrashed the Republic 5-1 to knock them out of 2018 World Cup contention.

Although McCarthy wasn’t involved in 2017, he doesn’t feel revenge will be a primary motivation among the Irish players

“I don’t know if it’s looking for revenge, I think we just need a really good performance, a solid performance – with the ball and without the ball. If it’s gaining revenge on that opposition, then if we do it, it’ll be brilliant.”

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