Shane Duffy was the hero for the Boys in Green in Sofia on Thursday night with his 93rd minute header meaning that the Stephen Kenny era gets off to an undefeated start.
Speaking after the 1-1 draw with Bulgaria to FAI.TV, Duffy’s initial assessment on the game was “disappointment” despite the Celtic player getting his fourth goal for Ireland – three of them now coming in 1-1 draws.
“It is most of the lads first games and we have had a couple days under the new manager trying to get used to it. We had a few sloppy moments.”
Conor Hourihane gave away the ball cheaply before the hour mark with Duffy caught out of position allowing Bozhidar Kraev to score the opener. It was somewhat against the run of play as Ireland had 60% of the ball in the game.
“We had most of the possession. They were dangerous and punished us. We only had a couple of days training. It was like a pre-season game for most of us as we haven’t had many games and straight into an international game is tough. I haven’t played in a long time.”
The introduction of Robbie Brady by Kenny late on gave added impetus to Ireland and his set-piece delivery proved crucial as Duffy got his head on the end of a Brady corner from the left in injury time to equalise.
“The positives are the never give up attitude and keeping going to the end. Even when we equalised we tried to win it as well. It was important we didn’t lose but a lot to improve on.”
Ireland travel back to Dublin in the ‘UEFA bubble’ ahead of playing Finland on Sunday – the Finns lost 1-0 at home to Wales this evening.