Steve Staunton is aware he is going to be the subject of some fierce criticism over the coming days after one of the worst results in the Republic of Ireland's history, but he is adamant he is "not walking away" after just 10 months in a job he also insists is not beyond him.
Yet it is clear, in the wake of Saturday's Euro 2008 qualifier, that his lack of managerial experience is proving a barrier to progress. Staunton talks of the Republic being in a transitional period, of a four-year plan to raise the standing of a team now ranked 43rd in the world.
However, there appeared no kind of plan against Cyprus, who had lost their previous five matches to the boys in green by a combined 18-0 aggregate. "Embarrassed", "hurt", "gutted" were just some of the words used by Staunton to describe his feelings after this débâcle. However, he did not place too much responsibility on himself. Instead much of his criticism was aimed at a defence that went into the game with 130 caps between them.
When asked whether he would look at himself, his coaching methods and whether his message was getting across to the players, the 37-year-old replied: "We will look at everything. I think things are getting across to the players but you can't coach mistakes. It was an experienced back four, and they are disappointed with how they've played. We worked hard all week. We covered everything, but it didn't happen on the night."
Next up are the Czechs, top of Group D with nine points from three games, and in a rampant mood after their 7-0 mauling of San Marino on Saturday.
With no points from two games, Ireland can forget about qualifying for the finals in Switzerland/Austria, a fact almost recognised by Staunton. "We've made it difficult for ourselves, and we have to win our home games," he said.
After taking a seventh-minute lead through Stephen Ireland, the Republic found themselves 2-1 down by the 16th minute.
Michalis Konstantinou and Alexis Garpozis capitalised on errors from Andy O'Brien and Paddy Kenny, before Richard Dunne equalised just before the break. But then the second half was a disaster, with Konstantinou scoring from the penalty spot and two goals from Constantinos Charalambides sealing the win prior to Dunne's dismissal for a second yellow.
Goals: Ireland (8) 0-1; Konstantinou (10) 1-1; Garpozis (16) 2-1; Dunne (44) 2-2; Konstantinou pen (50) 3-2; Charalambides (60) 4-2; Charalambides (75) 5-2.
Cyprus (4-4-2): Morfis; Satsias, Lambrou, Louka, Theodotou; Michael, Garpozis, Makrides, Okkas; Konstantinou, Aloneftis. Substitutes used: Charalambides for Michael, 46; Kharalambous for Garpozis, 77; Yiasemi for Okkas, 86.
Republic of Ireland (4-4-2): Kenny (Sheffield United); Finnan (Liverpool), O'Shea (Manchester United), Andy O'Brien (Portsmouth), Dunne (Manchester City); Kilbane (Wigan), McGeady (Celtic), S Ireland (Manchester City), Morrison (Crystal Palace); Keane (Tottenham), Duff (Newcastle). Substitutes used: Lee (Ipswich) for Andy O'Brien, 71; Alan O'Brien (Newcastle) for McGeady, 80; Douglas (Leeds United) for Ireland, 83.
Referee: L Cardoso Batista (Portugal).
Booked: Cyprus Morfis, Garpozis, Konstantinou, Satsias, Aloneftis; Republic of Ireland Dunne, Keane, O'Shea.
Sent off: Dunne (78).
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