'I don’t see why we can't win' - Aaron Connolly bullish about Ireland's chances in Israel

Irish Mirror   23/09/2022 23:25

AARON CONNOLLY says Ireland have nothing to fear ahead of next Tuesday’s European Championship play-off second-leg in Tel Aviv.

The tie is evenly poised, thanks to Evan Ferguson’s second-half equaliser.

It was no less than Jim Crawford’s side deserved as they created the better openings and dominated for large spells at Tallaght Stadium.

READ MORE: Ireland U21s 1-1 Israel U21s: Evan Ferguson's brilliant header cements fine Irish comeback effort

“I don’t see why we can't win,” said Connolly, who hit the post early on during his return to the Under-21 side.

“We were the much better team over 90 minutes, they scored from a set piece just before half time which could have derailed us but we kept going.

“For 75 or 80 minutes we dominated. Every team has its spells. Unfortunately we conceded but we will be full of confidence going into the second leg.”

As for his effort, which was pushed onto the inside of the post by the goalkeeper, Connolly remarked: “I’ve said to my parents there, I don’t know how that didn’t go in, the way it spun off the post and came out.

“But obviously it sums up the last year and half of my career really.

“I just need a bit of luck maybe at times, but besides that I thought we created chances. If we play like that on Tuesday then I have no doubts we can go through.”

He added: “Hopefully people can see that I am hungrier than ever to play for Ireland.

“When the chance came to play in a game like that I couldn’t say no.

“I’m hungrier than ever to put on a green shirt at any level now, just hungry to kick on again and rebuild my career and probably show some people that I am not done yet.”

Ireland boss Crawford praised the on-loan Venezia striker - and predicted a swift return to the senior set-up.

“Aaron was outstanding, we have been questioning about bringing him in but I had no hesitation,” said Crawford.

“Once we had those initial conversations and he wanted to come in, he proved to everyone that he adores putting on the green jersey.

“He went so close to scoring in the first half and again at the end of the game. He was a constant thorn in their side.

“I don't know how long he will be with the Under-21s, but if he keeps playing like that he will be back in the senior team.”

Crawford was disappointed not to come away with a win from last night’s first-leg.

“I thought we were the better team, we created the better chances,” he said.

“It was disappointing to concede when we did, we were on top of the game and it's always hard to take, conceding from a set piece as we work very hard on them.

“In the second half we didn't get going for the first 15 or 20 minutes, but finally the momentum came with us.

“I thought we were very good at the finish, we just had to freshen up certain areas of the pitch.”

As for 17-year-old goalscorer Ferguson, Crawford said: “It was a great finish, he has been scoring goals like that all week in training and it doesn't surprise me.

“It was a difficult game for him, it took him time to get going but he had moments of pure class and we should be excited by him.

“He is only 17 and to score for the U21s in such an important game is fantastic, he has a brilliant attitude.”

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