Irish players upbeat despite another loss
Players point to Ireland’s several missed chances in front of goal in Cologne
Anthony Stokes and Germany’s Per Mertesacker (right) battle for the ball. Photograph: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire
Seamus Coleman had plenty to smile about last night despite being on the wrong end of a 3-0 defeat, as he captained the Republic of Ireland on his birthday.
Now 25, the Donegal man was only told hours prior to their clash with Germany that he would lead the team out in Robbie Keane’s absence and it was a role he was honoured to take.
The Everton man could hardly enjoy the experience as he was run ragged by Andre Schurrle, but the right back was upbeat after the game in the Rhein Energie Stadion.
“It’s disappointing, they got goals at unfortunate times. We were trying to keep as solid as we could early doors. The first goal was a shot that was going wide and killed us a bit, but we kept going.
“Then they got another goal early in the second half and we’re chasing the game at the end and they got a third. We did alright at times I thought.
“We had a chance early doors when Darron Gibson played a lovely ball into Anthony Stokes and, on another night, he would have scored it. We definitely had some chances though.
“I think (we did show pride) and it was important not to let the same thing happen (as last year’s 6-1 hammering). I know it was a 3-0 scoreline and our keeper was brilliant, but I thought we played better tonight.”
Stephen Kelly who operated at full back on the other side reckoned the response from the players to interim boss Noel King was clear to see as positivity has been in the air this week. “Everyone was on board with him from day one. He came in and his game-plan was right. We needed to have solid banks, work off the ball and try to frustrate them,” reflected Kelly.
“We all bought into him and although he didn’t have much time with a new team I think it has worked well despite the scoreline. He had the style that he wanted to play, but I think it will be different come Tuesday.”
Next up is Kazakhstan, but Stokes will need some time to get over this game before switching his thoughts to playing at Aviva Stadium.
The Celtic striker forced two saves from Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer on what was his competitive debut for Ireland, but the 25-year-old was kicking himself for not scoring at least one of them.
“I had a couple of chances and didn’t take them. I’m happy with my performance but lacked a goal. I had a couple of split-second decisions to make and they just didn’t work for me,” said Stokes.
“I probably got ahead of the ball. It looked like it was not going to come in, but I expected to do a little bit better – it was one of those nights. I didn’t let my head go down, but it just wasn’t my night.”
This was Stokes’s first appearance in a green jersey since coming on as a late substitute against Uruguay two years ago, so it was nice to be back involved having being frozen out by Giovanni Trapattoni. “It’s great to be back. I know Noel from the under-21s and have a lot of respect for him. But I’m delighted to be back involved, just disappointed with the result,” said the Dubliner.
With only one game to go before the FAI look to appoint Trapattoni’s successor, Glenn Whelan reckons a number of young players did themselves a great service with their performances. “I think we have a young squad. A game like this will give them a lot of experiences. I know it’s easy to say but we do have some top players,” said Whelan.