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There’s lots of room for improvement

Stephen Kenny acknowledged his Republic of Ireland side have plenty to improve upon after an indifferent showing in the Nations League clash with Bulgaria.

Shane Duffy’s last-gasp header secured a 1-1 draw in Sofia on Thursday, with Bozhidar Kraev having opened the scoring for the hosts.

It was Kenny’s first match in charge, with the former Dundalk manager – who took over from Mick McCarthy as planned earlier this year – naming an inexperienced line-up.

And though Kenny took the positives from a performance which came after just three days of training, he understands his side have lots of work ahead of them.

“Certainly it was a match we’d have liked to win, for sure,” Kenny said in an interview posted to Ireland’s official Twitter account.

“There was some good play, no doubt, but there’s room for improvement still. We learned quite a few things and we hope to improve. We showed resilience but plenty to work on.

“There was a lot of good play in the game, we couldn’t capitalise on the chances we had. We knew Bulgaria are difficult to break down and they’re a good counter-attacking team.

“With the late equaliser, you’re hoping it’s a point gained. It’s a great goal, a terrific header from Shane Duffy and Robbie Brady’s brilliant delivery from the corner kick.

“There’s no way we deserved to lose the game and we were well capable of winning it. It was our first game after just three days training, so it’s important we get ourselves ready for Finland on Sunday.

“The players gave everything tonight. A lot of them are still in pre-season, Bulgaria have played eight games already. 

“It’s a quick turnaround but we’re not complaining, it’s a good opportunity. There were a lot of good points and some areas to improve.”

Duffy – who captained Ireland with Seamus Coleman left on the bench – echoed his manager’s sentiments.

“Disappointed, probably. Being realistic, it’s most of our lads’ first games, it’s been a couple of days under the new manager trying to get used to it,” he said.

“A few sloppy moments, personally for the goal as well. The positives – never-give-up attitude and going until the end. It’s important we didn’t lose it but there’s lots to improve.

“They were dangerous when we were sloppy, they punished us. We’ve only had a couple of days training, it’s like a pre-season game for most of us. It was tough.”

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