Duff: this feels better than World Cup qualification

Duff: this feels better than World Cup qualification

Duff hails Euro 2012 qualification...
16 Nov 2011

Damien Duff was a mere younger member of Ireland's 2002 World Cup squad, whereas the more matured and cultured winger will take to the Euro 2012 stage next year.

The Dubliner was once again an integral member of Ireland's crusade through the European Championship group and the ovation he received from the Aviva Stadium crowd on Tuesday night upon being substituted said it all about his continued contribution.

All that occupied the Fulham flanker's mind returning from that World Cup jaunt was qualification for more tournaments. He's had to wait a long time but the absence has increased his appetite for the big stage in Poland and Ukraine next June.

"I think I am going to enjoy this far more than the World Cup qualification 10 years ago," said Duff after winning his 94th senior international cap in Tuesday's 1-1 draw against Estonia which confirmed Ireland's 5-1 aggregate play-off victory.

"The last time we qualified the last time I was young. You think it is all ahead of you; you think it is going to happen every tournament.

"It sort of passes you by and I think that's why this one tonight means so much to me.

"I've had my share of injuries and you do start to think about the future so I will relish every minute of this.

"It will keep me going for some time now. I'll take the anti-inflammatories, try to steer free of injury and look forward to Poland and the Ukraine next year."

He added: "It's not going to be easy. There are fewer teams in the Euros and it will be tough but the great thing is that we are there now."

Duff's availability for Tuesday's clash was in doubt following an accidental clash with teammate Glenn Whelan during the Tallinn first leg. There was no way he was going to miss out though.

He said: "They were going to have to wheel me out of this one. I was determined to play even though I was sore and taking injections in the build-up to the match.

"It means that much to me and I know it means that much to the fans and to the whole country. Times are tough as we all know and if we can give everyone a lift it will be great.

"It's also important for football that we qualify. Everything about this stadium is to do with rugby, all the pictures in the corridors are of rugby. I love my rugby – I know quite a few of the international players - but we needed that win for football."