Aaron Connolly: 'Crazy couple of weeks' for Republic of Ireland debutant


Aaron Connolly scored twice for Brighton on his Premier League debut in the win over Tottenham Hotspur earlier this month

Aaron Connolly believes the Republic of Ireland can still reach Euro 2020 despite a disappointing result on his first international start.

Connolly, 19, made his full debut in Tuesday’s 2-0 defeat by Switzerland.

The teenager scored twice for Brighton on his Premier League debut and says the last few weeks have been “crazy”.

“It’s something I’ve dreamed of as a kid, it’s every Irish kid’s dream to play for his country and to do it at 19 is a brilliant feeling,” Connolly said.

After a sensational start to his Premier League career earlier this month, bagging two goals in Brighton’s 3-0 win over Tottenham, the Galway-born striker was immediately called up to the Republic’s squad for the back-to-back qualifiers against Georgia and Switzerland.

Mick McCarthy’s side took just one point from the trips to Tbilisi and Geneva, but victory over Denmark on 18 November in Dublin will guarantee automatic qualification to next summer’s Euro 2020 finals.

“Everyone was saying afterwards ‘one win’ and that is still the goal, we are still there,” insisted Connolly.

“One win in all we need and it’s a big one now in November.”

Reflecting on the loss in Geneva, Connolly said: “It was a disappointing end to my full debut.

“I’ve been watching and wanted to play for my country since I can remember and it was a proud night for me and my family.

“On a full debut you’d hope for more, a goal or at least a win, but we move on.”

Shane Duffy has scored three goals for the Republic of Ireland in 32 appearances

Republic defender Shane Duffy rued a couple of missed opportunities to score in the back-to-back qualifiers but is confident the team can make it to the European Championship finals for the second successive time.

They reached Euro 2016 in France under previous boss Martin O’Neill and lost a World Cup play-off to Denmark – who once again stand in their way of qualification for a major tournament.

“I had a few chances in the last few games that I’m disappointed about, but hopefully I’m keeping them for the Denmark game,” he said.

“In football you get a lot of setbacks and that’s our first one in this group, our first defeat.

“Everyone is disappointed but in front of our home fans there would be no better way [to qualify].

“The manager has been great, even know we lost he picks you up and we’ve got some good leaders in there.

“I believe, the lads believe, we’re good enough. We know we’re a hard team to beat and we know we can play better.

“Hopefully it all clicks in one game against Denmark. We want to get there next year and the fans deserve it.”

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