The Republic of Ireland’s best performance of the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign wasn’t enough to deliver the required victory to make it through to next year’s tournament.
Mick McCarthy’s side played superbly despite being held to a 1-1 draw by old rivals Denmark. Failing to register the three necessary points means Ireland must negotiate a Nations League play-off qualifier next Sspring.
“I think we just fell short in the end and we are gutted,” Ireland full-back Enda Stevens admitted.
“I thought we played well, I thought we really pushed and created chances. It was just kind of the final ball that let us down in the end. I think that’s the best we have played in the qualifying campaign so far.
“The fans could see that we were giving it our all. We were going right to the death and we are disappointed conceding in the manner that we did but reacted well. It got us back in the game but as I said, it was just the final ball that let us down towards the end.”
Stevens was presented with one of several Irish chances late on, but despite a heroic effort, Mick McCarthy’s side couldn’t conjure up a winner.
“We were pushing for it and looking for it and playing well,” Stevens added.
“The opportunities were there but the ball just never fell for us in the box. When it did, we didn’t seize the chance. I don’t know, it was just one of those games and we competed well. I just don’t know to be honest with you.”
“I thought it was a terrific performance,” McCarthy said.
“I said before the game that if the players give me everything and leave it all on the pitch then I have got to take what happens. I think they left everything and a bit more to be quite honest. Really disappointed with the goal we conceded but thrilled and delighted with the response afterwards.
“Remiss of me but I have just been giving out to Matt Doherty because it was a bad goal to concede but I forgot to congratulate him on his goal.
“Go and ask every Premier League and Championship manager why their players cannot play like that every game. I don’t know, they were up for it today and played some really good football. I didn’t think there were going to be a load of chances. They were a bit cautious.
“I have just said to the lads that if we are in a play-off and play like that (then we have every chance).
“I will lick my wounds, get on with it and start planning for the play-off in March. Make sure we play like that and if we do then we have a chance against anybody.”