Ireland hero Darren Randolph revealed his side were determined to give Denmark a battle in Friday night’s 1-1 draw. In the run-up to the Euro 2020 qualifier, several Danish players had had been critical of Ireland’s tactics but Mick McCarthy’s side finished the stronger following Shane Duffy’s late equaliser.
Randolph produced a number of saves to keep the Danes scoreless until he was helpless to prevent Pierre-Emile Hoejbjerg’s glancing header beating him 14 minutes from full-time. Duffy’s equaliser, however, earned a point, leaving Randolph to reflect the sense of bafflement in the Irish camp about the Denmark pre-match outcry.
“Did Denmark just expect us to go on the pitch, let them score and win the game?” said the Wicklow native. “We’re not going to make it easy for anybody. We’ve always been known for our resilience, we have to show against Denmark tonight and in the past.
“They were the home team, they created enough chances to win the game but didn’t take them. If they want to blame us, then fair enough. I’m not bothered what they call us or how they describe us. At the end of the day, we come out on the pitch and it’s 11 v 11, the game has finished 1-1 and it’s not our problem.
The Middlesbrough stopper praised the instructions doled out by McCarthy. There was a noticeable shift in the mindset from the route-one approach prevalent under his predecessor Martin O’Neill. This draw, on top of the six points claimed against Georgia and Gibraltar, keeps Ireland on the top Euro 2020 Group D.
“We’ve come off the back of two good performances and has some great days in training,” he reasoned. “There’s no reason why we can’t come out and play that. Everybody feels calm and relaxed on the ball.
“That’s credit to the manager. He’s onto his in training to pass the ball and play. Obviously, you don’t do it if it’s not on but I really enjoyed it tonight. It is even more enjoyable when you get a result.”
Randolph has particular complimentary words of Alan Judge. Playing his first competitive football at international level, the winger won and took the free-kick which led to Duffy’s equaliser. Sadly, he left the stadium with his arm in a cast after shipping a heavy challenge from Jens Stryger Larsen.
“I don’t know of many people with worse luck than Judgy,” said Randolph. “He’s put in a great ball and then with the last kick he gets a challenge, which was a stupid challenge really. It was definitely a bitter-sweet night for him but we’ll rally around and hopefully he’s back very quickly.”
Despite their strong position to reach next year’s Euros, Randolph is looking only as far as Monday’s qualifier against Gibraltar.
“If we get three points, everyone will go away and enjoy their summer. Playing Denmark at home in the Autumn is long way away. Tonight’s result might count for something or for nothing. I’ll say more on that the day before the game.”
Shane Duffy expressed his relief at plundering the equaliser for Ireland against Denmark after wasting an easier chance earlier. The Brighton defender has now bagged two of his three international goals against the Danes – his last one in the 5-1 hammering 20 months ago. He’ll recall this one more fondly as consolidates Ireland’s position at the summit of their Euro qualifying group.
“I don’t know what happened with the first half chance I missed,” he said. “I tried to swing at it and I missed it. I made a shambles of it really. I was a bit disappointed that I missed it, so I kept saying to myself, ‘If I get one more, hopefully I can put it away’.
“Alan Judge sent in the perfect cross for the equaliser. It was a quality free-kick that gave me the chance to stick away the header.”
Unlike the previous three draws in four matches against the Danes, Ireland were more positive with the ball. It is hardly coincidence that it came about under a new manager.
“Maybe there was a different personality about the team,” he said about Mick McCarthy’s influence. “He said he wanted us to get after them, keep our wingers high up the pitch. We saw after about 20 minutes or so they were getting some joy around the middle so we had to change it a bit. But it feels like a good point at the minute.
“Denmark are a good team and sometimes you have to give them that little bit of respect and keep your shape and that. But I thought we went after them a lot more. There is still a lot of improvement but we tried to play that little bit more and we tried to press them.”