Football

Matt Doherty Explains What Has Changed With Ireland Since England Hammering

Matt Doherty Explains What Has Changed With Ireland Since England Hammering

It has not been an easy 12 months or so for the Republic of Ireland.

Having brought in a new manager with the goal of completely overhauling the team's style of play, there was always going to be a bedding in period. However, not many would have thought that the side would go on the winless run that they did.

The game against England was a real low point during this period.

Few expected Ireland to get a result against Gareth Southgate's side during their international friendly in November, although the emphatic nature of the defeat rightly left many concerned.

Amongst them was Matt Doherty, who said after the game that he was 'embarrassed' to walk off the pitch that night and that the players in the squad needed to 'wake up'.

I feel a bit embarrassed when I come off the pitch sometimes, because we are losing games and not scoring goals, and conceding goals. It’s not nice.

I felt like we kind of gave up tonight when the second goal went in tonight. It felt like there was no way anything possibly good could happen from the game...

Obviously we are in transition with a new manager and young players, but we need to wake up.

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Since then, the tide has slowly been turning.

While Ireland's only win up to this point has come against Andorra, there have been improvements. The prime example came in Portugal the other night where Stephen Kenny's side came within five minutes of beating one of the world's best teams.

They will need to follow that up with a win against Azerbaijan tomorrow afternoon. Having been so critical of the team after that game in Wembley, Doherty feels a lot has changed during the intervening months.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow's qualifier at the Aviva Stadium, the Spurs defender said that there has been a noticeable uptick in their performances, with their long training camp in Spain back in June perhaps a key reason for that.

There has been quite a bit of growth. The play we are trying to play, I think on Wednesday it all came to the fore.

Our confidence with the ball, our ability, our shape, everything looked solid. We looked like a dangerous team and could cause problems every time we broke forward.

We were calm on the ball, calm out of position and didn't lose control or our heads. We didn't lose the shape much at all.

That is progression over the game. We seem to be looking better, looking more of a threat going forward every time that we play. Even though we lost the game, a lot of confidence is taken from that performance...

In the summer we had a really good trip. Everybody that was there has nothing but praise for it. It obviously helps when you win a game (against Andorra) and we drew with Hungary.

With the trip in general, we had time together, spent some time together and got to know different players. That was a real benefit for us that trip.

We've worked on stuff in the summer and now we can go out and perform and do what we worked on.

Hopefully we see the even further proof of that tomorrow against Azerbaijan.

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Gary Connaughton

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