Republic of Ireland’s shoot-out defeat ‘a cruel way to lose’

Republic Of Ireland’s Shoot-Out Defeat ‘A Cruel Way To Lose’ Republic Of Ireland’s Shoot-Out Defeat ‘A Cruel Way To Lose’
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Press Association
Stephen Kenny was left to rue the cruelty of football as the Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2020 dream was torn apart in a dramatic penalty shoot-out in Slovakia.

Kenny, whose plans were disrupted shortly before kick-off when strikers Aaron Connolly and Adam Idah were withdrawn from the squad because they had sat too close to a member of the backroom staff on the flight over who later tested positive for coronavirus, saw his side very nearly win their semi-final in 90 minutes and again on extra-time.

However, they ultimately exited the competition 4-2 on penalties after Alan Browne’s spot-kick was saved and Matt Doherty’s came back off the crossbar.

Asked if luck had deserted Ireland, Kenny told Sky Sports: “I don’t know whether you can say bad luck, but the players didn’t deserve to lose the game. They gave absolutely everything of themselves.

“Their work-rate was phenomenal and their determination to try to win tonight and get to the final was very evident. It’s just a cruel way to lose on penalty kicks.

“But I thought we defended really well all night, just that one block that Shane Duffy made off the line, we created some good chances and some good play.

“Some of the forward play – David McGoldrick was absolutely outstanding at times, so I’m really, really disappointed for the players, really, because they deserved better.”

Browne had come closest to winning the game in extra-time when his shot came back off a post, but Conor Hourihane had earlier passed up a glorious 85th-minute opportunity after skipper Duffy had cleared substitute Lukas Haraslin’s attempt off the line.

The Republic now face Nations League clashes with Wales and Finland before the players return to their clubs, but they headed back to Dublin wondering what might have been following the late reshuffle.

Asked about the absence of Connolly and Idah, Kenny replied: “We have different rules in Ireland than you have in the UK, they’re much more stringent.

“They would be deemed close contacts to one of our non-footballing staff, but it was just very, very harsh that they were ruled out. They were perfectly fine, there’s nothing wrong with them, but the two metre rule in Ireland…

“If they were in the UK, the would have been perfectly entitled to play, but Ireland has more stringent rules and we had to abide by the medical advice.”

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