Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy insisted that the qualifying draw for Euro 2020 was far from easy though he admitted that a group containing the Netherlands and Germany would have represented a tougher ask. 

The attendees at the Convention Centre gasped when the Republic of Ireland were pulled out of the pot and most presumed they were going to be dropped into Group C with the Netherlands and Germany.

However, the tournament regulations intervened with the stipulation that no more than two tournament hosts were eligible to be placed in the same qualifying group.

The Republic of Ireland were thus shunted into Group D, by consensus a more manageable affair, alongside Switzerland and Denmark. Northern Ireland were then drawn in Group C. 

Speaking to RTÉ Sport's Tony O'Donoghue afterwards, McCarthy said he saw Nuno Gomes, who pulled Ireland's name out of the pot, glance at fellow officiators at the draw, Robbie Keane and Ronnie Whelan after doing so. 

"They explained before that there were certain things that couldn't happen.

"I looked at Nuno (Gomes) when he picked it and he looked at Robbie (Keane) and he looked at Ronnie (Whelan) so we knew who it was. So, it was a surprise (to get taken out). 

"I'm not saying our group is easier but the Netherlands and Germany would have been a really tough ask and then of course Michael O'Neill (Northern Ireland manager) got it. 

"I think everyone is asking me is it an 'easy' draw. It's not because Georgia was one I looked at in Pot 4 that's a tough one because we've played them before and they've always had good teams."

The five-team group means Ireland will enjoy one free international window, opening up the possibility that friendly matches could be arranged.

It is, however, not yet known when in the schedule the free weekend will fall. 

McCarthy admitted that he has limited scope for experimentation.   

"Experimenting? Yeah, but I wonder how much? It's a pretty short schedule from March and September. So, if you win a game you might pick the same team and keep it going. It could be completely different. It might be an opportunity. But if you get on a roll, you want to keep it on a roll, even if it's a friendly."  

The group has lumped Ireland in with a number of familiar foes and McCarthy reflected on the fact that his last game as Ireland manager in 2002 was a home defeat against Switzerland. 

"It was my very last game. I had made my mind already that I was going at the time and I tried to win it. And we got done on the break and they scored with a great goal to make it 2-1. It was sad leaving on that note. But I've got a chance for revenge, haven't I?"

"I watched the games then (against Denmark) and we got some decent results against them. But it's a different era, it's a different time. We'll be trying to beat all the teams and anything that's happened against Denmark in the past, I can't do anything about that. 

"It's a change. Hopefully, you get a response. It's a strange situation going straight into competitive games, which I think we will. We don't know the fixtures yet."  

Speaking later to RTÉ Sport, Denmark assistant manager Jon Dahl Tomasson says Ireland will have "a new spirit" under McCarthy but noted that "at the end of the day it's the same players who will be playing."