NIGHTMARE AT THE AVIVA
Ireland’s World Cup dream shattered as rampant Danes tear Boys in Green apart
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