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Worries me greatly – Eamon Dunphy shares fear for Irish football from Euro 2024

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EAMON DUNPHY has been impressed by the technical and strategic level of traditional minnows at Euro 2024 – which is bad news for Ireland.

Writing in his Irish Mirror column, the longtime RTE pundit acknowledged that the likes of Georgia, Austria, Slovenia, Turkey and Albania are miles ahead of The Boys in Green.

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The Dubliner tipped Switzerland to knock England out on SaturdayCredit: Crispin Rodwell – The Sun Dublin
Willy Sagnol is now likely out of the FAI's league on the back of his success with Georgia

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Willy Sagnol is now likely out of the FAI’s league on the back of his success with GeorgiaCredit: Getty
Turkey secured their spot in the quarter-finals with an enthralling win over fellow upstarts Austria

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Turkey secured their spot in the quarter-finals with an enthralling win over fellow upstarts AustriaCredit: AP

Thus far, only Spain and Germany have lived up to their pre-tournament billing.

England, France and Portugal have also advanced to the quarter-finals – but in far less impressive fashion.

The 78-year-old does concede though that it is getting increasingly difficult for top-level players to perform at their maximum level when the modern calendar has become overly demanding on their bodies.

This has reduced the gap between those talented but jaded squads and their less heralded opponents at end of season tournaments.

Dunphy notes how these supposed lesser lights like have triumphed over sides filled with more big names such as Belgium and Italy.

He then goes on to draw a parallel between how they take particular pride in representing their nation as Ireland’s players are renowned for.

Unfortunately for Ireland though, that’s about where the similarities with the current Irish setup end.

He writes: “I’ve watched the likes of Georgia, Austria, Slovenia, Turkey and Albania and they’ve played with more freedom than the supposed European giants.

“We’d often hear Ireland players say in interviews that playing for their country is their equivalent of the Champions League.

“I think that applies to the surprise packets at these Euros.

RTE pundit Dietmar Hamann backs John O’Shea to be the next Republic of Ireland manager

“There are a few star names in their ranks but, generally, they’re calling on journeymen at journeymen clubs.

“But this is the biggest stage of their lives and they’re playing as if they want to make the most of every second.

“From an Irish point of view, what I’ve watched worries me, worries me greatly.

“Even these supposedly lesser teams look way better than Ireland.

“The new manager will have a massive job on his hands.”

HOU ELSE?

Thursday saw Conor Hourihane become the latest current/recent player to back John O’Shea to get the gig on a permanent basis.

Speaking to SportsBoom.com, Hourihane backed his former teammate to get the job full-time.

The 33-year-old said: “I think John’s done a really solid job, why not give it (the job) to him?

“At the moment it looks like a bit of mess – and as a nation we need to start moving forward and winning more football games again.

“I think he’s done a good job at a very difficult time.

“He’s just as good a candidate as anyone else in my eyes.

“He’s a brilliant guy, he was in the squad as an older player when I first got in the squad.

“He was a really top guy and he had the respect of the players.

“Everybody back home in Ireland also really loves him because of what he’s done for Ireland – and also for what he’s achieved in his playing career.”

O’Shea has had two spells in interim charge amid the FAI‘s ongoing search for Stephen Kenny‘s successor.

The first, in March, saw the Boys in Green draw with Belgium and lose to Switzerland.

And the second, in June, saw him record a dramatic last-minute win over Hungary followed by defeat to Portugal.

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