Ireland midfielder Conor Hourihane says the possession style favoured by Stephen Kenny is a player-friendly approach.
he Aston Villa player has been encouraged to showcase his passing capabilities by the new manager and thinks last night’s draw in Bulgaria could be chalked down as an encouraging work in progress.
Hourihane was used in a midfield three, and reverted from an attacking brief to a more deep lying role as Ireland chased the game and James McCarthy was sacrificed. He enjoyed the change in focus.
“It’s a new style and new era so it’s a very exciting time,” said Hourihane today.
“The positives were we tried to pass the ball a little better than we probably did under previous regimes, a lot more patient than usual. There were times we gave it away a little bit cheaply and the goal probably wasn’t great, but that spirit and never-say-die attitude kept us going.
“We stuck to the principles that this manager wants, to keep passing the ball, even though we were 1-0 down.
“I think all the lads enjoyed it, a lot of managers nowadays want to pass the ball and a lot of us go about our business that way at club level. It was very, very enjoyable. We had a lot of possession, we created some chances, so positives moving forward.
“We had 60 percent possession, which is good. We created some good chances and if we had taken one of them earlier it would have been a different game. Hopefully the results will follow.
“Passing the ball suits my game a little bit more which is great and the style in general suits me and more lads in this team.”
Hourihane did give the ball away in the lead up to Bulgaria’s goal and said the way in which it was punished highlighted an area where Ireland can improve heading into Sunday’s meeting with Finland.
“Maybe we were a little bit open last night, especially for the goal when we gave the ball away but they are lessons we will learn as we go along,” he said.
“There are three of us (midfielders) in there and we can’t all go gung-ho. The full-backs bomb on and we have wingers who like to go inside, so we can’t all bomb on at once. Of course we need to be careful. It’s a performance to build on. Obviously a draw isn’t what we want, we want more wins than draws.
“We’re in a results business and we all want to win and we all want to get good results first and foremost.
“You simply have to win and win ugly at times – that would be absolutely fine as well. But if we can win and play well at the same time, that’s the thing everyone strives for.”