Shane Duffy: Blame the players not Martin O'Neill

Shane Duffy: Blame the players not Martin O'Neill

By Brendan O'Brien

Shane Duffy has declared that the Republic of Ireland players, rather than the management team, should shoulder the blame for the side's dismal run which continued on Tuesday night with a 1-0 home Nations League loss to a weakened Wales.

Martin O'Neill's side has won just one of their last nine games and now face relegation from the second tier of the National League - which would see the Boys in Green relegated to third seed rankings ahead of the draw for the Euro 2020 qualifiers.

This latest defeat will increase even further the pressure on O'Neill who has had to contend with criticisms over the team's style of play, the controversy over Roy Keane's verbal spat with Harry Arter and Jonathan Walters and the unavailability of Declan Rice.

“Well, it's us out there, isn't it? It's us out there playing,” said Duffy.

It is the players' responsibility to perform. They can tell us what to do but it is up to us to do it and we have obviously let them down. It is up to the players to take responsibility of it. It's obviously not good enough. I wouldn't blame them.

Duffy has also rejected suggestions that the squad is low in confidence right now.

“I thought we played quite well tonight at times and it's just disappointing that we didn't get one in the back of the net early on. It would have been a different game probably. We're just in that rut lately where we're not winning as we used to.”

Ireland need to beat Denmark in their last group game next month, in Aarhus, if there is to be any hope of avoiding relegation and the serious consequences that would come with that.

With Dublin set to host games as part of the Euro 2020 finals, a third seeding in the qualifying draw would jeopardise the Republic's hopes of playing matches at a major senior tournament on home soil for the very first time.

“Yeah, but we're not looking at it like that,” said Duffy. “We have to believe that we can go out to Denmark and win and hopefully other results can go our way but, as I said before, we have a never-say-die attitude.

“We won't give up now and we still have one more game to play. Whatever happens happens. Hopefully we can go out there and get the three points and you never know where that might take us.”

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