Duff hails overdue feat
Damien Duff admits it is 'about time' the Republic of Ireland reached the finals of a major tournament after qualifying for Euro 2012.
Last Updated: 16/11/11 9:59am
Damien Duff admits it is 'about time' the Republic of Ireland reached the finals of a major tournament after they booked a spot in Euro 2012 on Tuesday night.
Giovanni Trapattoni's men drew 1-1 with Estonia in Dublin to seal a 5-1 aggregate victory and progress to their first international tournament in 10 years.
Estonia skipper Konstantin Vassiljev's strike denied the Republic victory in their play-off second leg but few at the Aviva Stadium would have had any complaints.
Stephen Ward had earlier set the hosts on their way with a close-range 31st-minute finish, and Fulham midfielder Duff felt the achievement was long overdue.
"It's an amazing feeling - it's probably even better than [reaching the World Cup in] 2002 because time is running out for a few of us, so I suppose you appreciate it more now," Duff told Sky Sports.
"It's brilliant and it's about time - 25 years since we've been to the Euros and 10 since we got to a major tournament."
Aston Villa defender Richard Dunne said sealing qualification to the finals in Poland and Ukraine ranked as his finest moment in the game.
"It's the best experience I've probably had in football," he said.
"We've walked around Lansdowne Road a few times with nothing to show for it at the end of campaigns, so to qualify here I think is special for everyone.
"Everybody wants to play in a major tournament and now to have the opportunity is going to be great, but I think for everyone in the squad it's about enjoying tonight and enjoying the qualification."
Goalscorer Ward added: "It's a great night. We're disappointed not to win the game but if you told us we'd have won 5-1 and qualified...
"It's a dream come true and we're absolutely delighted."