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Dara O'Shea Explains Why Ireland Squad Are Relishing Chance To Compete Against The Best

Dara O'Shea Explains Why Ireland Squad Are Relishing Chance To Compete Against The Best
By Gary Connaughton Updated
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Looking at Ireland's team against Latvia on Wednesday night, one thing that immediately jumped off the page was the youth on display. The average age of the side was 23.6-years old, and while Stephen Kenny has employed a youth movement during his tenure with the team, this was a remarkable stat.

That inexperience perhaps showed at times. Having held a 2-0 lead early in the game, some might say there was a sense of naivety in the way they allowed the opposition back into the contest.

A few more experienced names will come back into the team for the France game on Monday, but the bulk of the side is likely to remain largely unchanged from the match earlier this week.

You would not blame those young players for being daunted by the task that will be presented in that fixture. France have just come off the back of a World Cup final, where they came within a penalty shootout of becoming the first side to retain the tournament since Brazil in 1962.

However, there seems to be a wisdom beyond their collective years in this group.


Dara O'Shea is a prime example. At 24-years old, he has already been named as West Brom's captain and has quite a bit of experience under his belt.

He will likely have to call on everyone of those past experiences if he is to stem the tide against the French. In saying that, it is a prospect he is looking forward to.


These are the games you want to be involved in as a footballer. You want to play against the best footballers in the world and they have some of them. It's an exciting game...

I think for me it's something I relish. As a young lad coming up, you want to play against the best to try and be the best, so when you get opportunities like this and nights like those you want to be a part of it, you want to be playing against them and seeing where you are.

It's a great opportunity for lots of us, we haven't maybe played in games like this before and played against certain players like these, so it's a massive opportunity at the end of the day for us.

24 March 2023; Dara O'Shea during a Republic of Ireland press conference at FAI Headquarters in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

There is a sense of confidence within this Irish group. That might be surprising considering that results have been mixed over the last couple of years, but they seem to be very much believe in the project that Stephen Kenny is building.


The upcoming qualification campaign will certainly be a stern test of how far they have come. It had previously been said that Kenny would be judged on the team's finishing position in this group, but having been drawn alongside France and the Netherlands, even the most optimistic of Ireland supporters would probably tell you that finishing third is a decent outcome.

Despite the size of the challenge awaiting on Monday and in the months ahead, O'Shea said he and his teammates are relishing the opportunity to show that they can perform on the biggest stage.

It's a new group in that sense. These are the nights we want to have as a group, we've watched back those night as fans.

Some of the lads have played in those and can show their expertise and knowledge and share that with us, but, yeah, we want to write our own history. We want to go out and put a good performance in and do the country proud...

If you're around the hotel, you get that feeling. The young lads coming in and putting performances like the other night is massive. It was a positive result for us and something that has carried onto the days after.

As a whole, the group is very excited, training has been very buzzy. With games like this coming up, lads do really look forward to them and after a good result the other night it's important we stay focused and take that energy into the game...

At the end of the day, we all want to play against the best and be the best at some stage, and be the best we can be in our career. So games like these are games that he players really relish and look forward to.

That belief will very much be put to the test against France.

While it could be said that a positive result is unlikely, that does not seem to be the feeling within the Irish camp. Time will tell whether that confidence is well placed.


SEE ALSO: Here's The Intriguing Ireland Team We Want To See Against France

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