NIGHT­MARE AT THE AVIVA

Ire­land’s World Cup dream shat­tered as ram­pant Danes tear Boys in Green apart

Irish Daily Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - BY SHARON MCGOWAN

OUR World Cup dream turned into a night­mare at the Aviva last night as Ire­land were de­stroyed by the Danes.

More than 50,000 fans packed into the sta­dium, the ma­jor­ity of the crowd hop­ing to roar the Boys in Green to the fi­nals in Rus­sia next sum­mer.

A sixth minute goal from Shane Duffy ap­peared to have got the party started early.

How­ever, things quickly turned sour and helped by a bril­liant Chris­tian Erik­sen hat-trick the Vik­ing vis­i­tors had the game Dane and dusted long be­fore the fi­nal whis­tle blew on a 5-1 hid­ing.

Emo­tions ran high af­ter the heart­break­ing de­feat with dev­as­tated Irish fans barely able to be­lieve what they had just wit­nessed.

Gerry Mckenna said the re­sult was “des­per­ately hard to swal­low”.

He told the Irish Mir­ror: “I’m just lost for words.

“I was so des­per­ate to get to a World Cup to sup­port Ire­land.

“I was too young to go to any of the other ones and it looks like I’m about to miss out again. We tried our hard­est to get the job done but to fall short at the fi­nal hur­dle is just soul de­stroy­ing.

“Watch­ing the World Cup with­out Ire­land in it will not be the same thing.”

How­ever, the Water­ford man vowed to con­tinue sup­port­ing the team as he im­me­di­ately set his sights on the next World Cup cam­paign.

He added: “The only pos­i­tive we can take is that Martin O’neill is stay­ing on as man­ager for an­other two years.

“Hope­fully we’ll get over the line next time around.

“It’s very dif­fi­cult to take but we are proud of all the lads who rep­re­sented our

coun­try with such pride. We’ll dust our­selves down and go at it again when the next qual­i­fi­ca­tion cam­paign starts in Septem­ber.

“And we’ll never stop sup­port­ing the team like we do. The show must go on.”

The fans’ agony was shared by the Irish play­ers with James Mc­clean break­ing down in tears as he spoke to RTE af­ter the match.

The Derry man said: “I don’t know what to say, we shot our­selves, we got a great start and I don’t know what to say.

“I’m just dev­as­tated – not just for us, but for ev­ery­one.

“It’s been a long cam­paign and we just let our­selves down.” When asked if Ire­land lacked qual­ity, he added: “Maybe so, maybe the oc­ca­sion. I don’t know, they were just bet­ter.

“I don’t know what to say, I’m just dev­as­tated. I don’t know.”

The con­trast with the mood of the few thou­sand Dan­ish fans who de­scended upon the Emer­ald Isle in re­cent days to watch the clash could not have been more stark.

Last night they were toast­ing their World Cup qual­i­fi­ca­tion in the cap­i­tal’s wa­ter­ing holes into the wee small hours, while the Green Army drowned their sor­rows.

It had been do-or-die for the teams af­ter Satur­day’s first leg in Copen­hagen ended score­less, a re­sult which raised hopes of Ire­land mak­ing the World Cup fi­nals for the first time since their mem­o­rable 2002 cam­paign in South Korea and Ja­pan.

The at­mos­phere reached fever pitch within six min­utes when Duffy gave Ire­land the lead.

But that was as good as it got with Den­mark turn­ing the game on its head with two goals in the space of three first half min­utes.

An­other three fol­lowed in a de­press­ing sec­ond half as Irish hopes were un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously buried be­neath an avalanche of goals.

GAME OVER Ire­land man­ager Martin O’neill at Aviva last night

TOUGH TO TAKE Fan watches on as Ire­land crash out EX­CRU­CI­AT­ING Sup­porter comes to grips with loss SOUR POWER De­jected Irish fan looks on MOSCOW FLYERS Danes cel­e­brate trip to Rus­sia next sum­mer COULDN’T MAN­AGE IT Gaffer Martin O’neill

END OF THE ROAD Jeff Hen­drick and Rob­bie Brady at the fi­nal whis­tle PRIDE

Daniel Bracken with his aunt and Ray D’arcy last night SHELL-SHOCKED Fans ap­plaud he­roes GUT­TED James Mc­clean

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