Republic of Ireland coach Mick McCarthy was full of praise for his players after they crashed out of the World Cup to Spain in a penalty shoot-out.
“I’m very proud of my team,” he said. “We didn’t deserve to lose like that. If anything we should have won the game in normal time. We had the chances, but my players don’t deservethis.
“I said before the game that there wouldn’t be any recriminations. We’ve had a wonderful World Cup. Of course, we would love to have gone on to play in the quarter-finals and probably we should be there. But I’ve got no complaints.”
“The change of tactic worked for us,” continued McCarthy, “but my players are so flexible that I have come to expect a lot from them. They are a wonderful bunch and it is an absolute pleasure for me to work with them.”
“I feel so sorry for the lads who missed penalties. Practising is one thing but stepping up to take oneis another.
“I feel particularly sorry for Matty Holland who has been immense for us this whole tournament. He has been outstanding, and an inspiration.
“For him to miss, well, he’s heartbroken, continued McCarthy.
“I’ve been involved in two penalty shoot-outs in my life and I have won one and lost one. I certainly didn’t enjoy losing that one today. We’re going out of this tournament unbeaten in my mind.
“We played terrifically all tournament and had the best of the game today. We played them off the park.
“We have probably done their chances of winning the World Cup a lot of harm. We took a lot out of them.
“I had thought of Spain as potential winner, but maybe I shouldn’t knock their performance.”