Damien Duff deflated by Republic of Ireland defeat to Spain
Damien Duff was today reflecting on the end of a dream after the Republic of Ireland's bruising defeat by Spain.
Last night's 4-0 drubbing in Gdansk means Ireland's involvement at Euro 2012 will come to an end with the final whistle against Italy on Monday evening, a far cry from the hopes with which they arrived in Poland.
Duff said: "I dreamed, like everyone else, of going the whole way. It is obviously not going to pan out, but what can you say?"
The Republic went into the game knowing they were up against it after losing 3-1 to Croatia in their opening Group C fixture, and well aware that only a positive result at the PGE Arena in Gdansk would give them any chance of making the quarter-finals.
In the event, they were simply blown away by the reigning world and European champions on a night when they were once again made to pay for mistakes at the back.
Duff said: "We didn't help ourselves at times. Even at 1-0 at half-time, you come out and think, 'Right, let's keep it at that for 20, 25 minutes, maybe they will get a bit nervous'.
"But we didn't help ourselves. You are going to be pulled all over the place, really, with them.
"We did well at times and defended well at times, but we shot ourselves in the foot again."
Fernando Torres was the chief executioner as he helped himself to a double either side of David Silva's cheeky finish, and by the time substitute Cesc Fabregas completed the scoring seven minutes from time, Ireland were well beaten.
They now face the prospect of trying to stop Italy from sending them home pointless in a game which is far from a dead rubber for their opponents.
Last night's draw with Croatia means the Italians have only two points from their opening two games with Spain and Croatia both on four.
As a result, they have to win and even then, a 2-2 draw between Spain and Croatia would put them out, a similar fate to the one they suffered at Euro 2004 when Denmark and Sweden shared four goals and both progressed at their expense amid unseemly and unproven allegations.
However, none of that will matter to Duff and his team-mates as they attempt to extend their recent good record against Cesare Prandelli's side.
Ireland drew home and away with Italy in the last World Cup qualifying campaign - they were only denied victory in Dublin by a late Alberto Gilardino equaliser - and beat them 2-0 in a friendly in Liege last summer.
Duff said: "I hope we will be looking forward to it. We will get ourselves up for it.
"We are a proud set of lads and a proud nation, and we want to give people back home and the fans last night especially something to cheer about."
Latest in Sport
New day (slowly) rising – As Brasileirão gets underway, Brazilian football stumbles, rather than leaps into the future
The average Serie A crowd last year was 13,000 - comparable to Australia’s A-League.
by James Young
24 May 2013 04:31 PM
Monaco is a street circuit where driver ability is more important than anywhere else and if we take ...
by Gareth Purnell
24 May 2013 02:00 AM
Three weeks ago as I drove off the Eurostar, I remember thinking what a very long time it was until ...
by Martin Ayres
23 May 2013 05:29 PM
Dylan Hartley faces anxious wait on Lions ban
The Calvin report: Stirring Champions League final shows how far English game must advance
Borussia Dortmund 1 Bayern Munich 2 match report: Arjen Robben proves Mr Reliant for for Bayern
England's versatile quartet to replace old rearguard
Boxing: Revenge for Carl Froch with unanimous decision over Mikkel Kessler
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.