“And so it ends, not with a bang, but not exactly with a whimper either,” reports The Irish Examiner.
The Irish press generally see their side’s performance in the game against Italy in the same positive way as the country’s superb fans in Poland. There is very little talk of blame and nothing nearly as negative as what ITV pundit Roy Keane had to say about his country’s efforts.
There is even a degree of pride at how much the Italians were made to sweat for their victory, as the Evening Echo reports, “The sense of relief among the Italian fans, who were dwarfed in number by their Irish counterparts, was palpable, and will have been shared both on the pitch and the bench.”
This sense of pride is reflected in the lack of criticism of manager Giovanni Trapattoni.
There is still strong feeling for the manager with no one baying for his blood despite a dismal tournament that saw them exit the tournament without recording a single point. A decent showing against the Italians seems to have been enough for Irish fans.
However, ex-Ireland international Kevin Kilbane voiced some concerns over the manager’s future on BBC Radio 5 saying, “If we do not start out well on the road to the next World Cup in Brazil then I fear that people might turn on him.”
This comment reflects the general Irish mood that people were not expecting great things in Poland and are willing to give the players and the manager another chance, but only one more chance. However it is widely felt that Trapattoni will have to change his selection policy and inject some youth into the squad as debate centres on the veterans of the side.
The Evening Echo leads with “No decisions yet on retirement for Ireland internationals”.
The older players are subject to the most speculation. Several core players in Ireland’s squad are in their mid-thirties and after Keane saying they should bow out discussion is focussed on how long they will carry on for.
The Irish Examiner sees the tournament as the end of the road for many of the players, “it had the look, to be honest, more of era’s end than tournament’s end for some of them.”
It may well be the end of the Ireland squad as we know it with many players at an age where they will be thinking about retirement. However there is no pressure or outcry from the media after their side’s performance at the Euro 2012. The general feeling is that people are willing to accept that Ireland simply had a difficult group.
However, they may not be so forgiving in future.