Thursday evening saw a new look Republic of Ireland fight back in the 90th minute to salvage a draw away to Bulgaria in Sofia.
In what was Stephen Kenny’s first game in charge of the Boys in Green, a header from captain Shane Duffy rescued a point for Ireland in their opening game in the UEFA Nations League.
The scoreline did not reflect the whole story of Ireland’s performance in Bulgaria, as they dominated the ball and possession with a young team featuring Aaron Connolly and Adam Idah.
Midfielder Conor Hourihane, who played the full game in Sofia, was full of positives when talking to the media on Friday afternoon.
“The positives were that we tried to pass the ball better than previous regimes and we were a lot more patient that usual,” Hourihane said.
“But, there were times we gave the ball away cheaply and the goal we gave away wasn’t great.
“That spirt we always have, that never say die attitude, was there. We kept going and stuck to the principles that Kenny wants. We kept passing the ball even though we were 1-0 down and from that we got a well deserved goal at the end of the game.
“I think all of the lads enjoyed playing Kenny’s way. A lot managers now days like us passing the ball and a lot of us go about our business at club level that way. We had a lot possession and created a number of chances. That is a big positive going forward.
“We think this is a performance we can build from. The new manager came in and we only had three or four days to take in as much information as possible. We tried to play the right way, the way he wants to play, and that is more possession based. We had more than 60% possession which is good. We created some good chances. I think if we had taken one of those earlier it would have been a different game. There are positives to take going into Sunday.
“There has been a change in style and in direction. There has been a freshness with the new lads coming in. It is a new time and a new era. It is a very exiting time and hopefully the results follow.”
The midfielder, from Bandon in Cork, wasn’t the only name from the the Rebel County in Stephen Kenny’s team against Bulgaria.
Alongside Hourihane and Johnny Egan, striker Adam Idah, who is from Douglas, made his international debut for the Boys in Green in Sofia.
Other young Irish talent which featured in Bulgaria included Galway native Aaron Connolly, who previously featured for Ireland in a Euro 2020 qualifier in Georgia, and Bristol City winger Callum O'Dowda.
“The young lads did very well on Thursday night. They are inexperienced at this level, but they have a lot of Irish caps ahead of them. I have no doubt that that every cap they get and every performance they put in, they will build and learn from them. All the lads did fine last night.”