David Meyler: ‘We poured our heart and soul into the performance ’

Irish midfielder has not given up hope of World Cup qualification

After a night that ended in defeat and despair for Ireland, David Meyler tried to take some consolation from the home team's performance with the Hull City midfielder adamant that he and his team-mates had left every ounce of energy and effort out there on the pitch.

“We can’t have too many regrets,” said the 28 year-old who had done well after being drafted in to provide more effective cover for the home side’s defence in midfield.

“We poured our heart and soul into the performance and gave it everything. They probably had two good chances, but overall I think we deserved something from the game, probably three points, but we couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net.

“We are hugely disappointed but we have been in this situation before, our aim is to win those two games and I believe we will.”

Ireland had not lost a competitive game at home in four years with Sweden the last side to take all three points away in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

That campaign ultimately ended in disappointment but Shane Duffy said there is still a strong collective belief in the dressing room that things will end differently this time.

“Definitely,” he said. “Everyone will write us off but everybody wrote us off the last time and we got there.

“In there [the dressingroom\) is the most important place and everyone is still confident. The manager is 100 per cent confident that we will be at the World Cup and I believe that we will be. It’s just two massive results that we need now but why can’t we?”

Still, Duffy admitted, the sense of deflation after losing out was clear to see. “It was hard, you can imagine, a lot of heads in hands. Proud players who want to win for their country but it just didn’t happen. He [O’Neill] was trying to pick us and telling us that he’s is 100 per cent confident, that we always knew it would probably go down to the last game and we rise to big occasions.

“We did tonight, we played well, just didn’t get the right result. It’s just one of those things but he believes that we’ll get there, we believe it and so we have to keep going.”

Serbia skipper Branislav Ivanovic, meanwhile, admitted his side was hanging on in the wake of the second half sending off as Ireland desperately chased the equaliser that would have kept alive their chances of finishing first in the group.

“We were definitely a bit panicky, under pressure after that,” said the former Chelsea defender. “We were probably not very composed but this was our dream, to go to a World Cup, and the players fought for everything.

“We knew if we go out in this game we will be in real trouble in the group. This has been a massive, huge step and we are really happy about the result.

“I know how Premier League football works but this was the toughest I have ever played against, it was a duel all around the pitch, definitely the toughest game we have played so far in the group.

“I am very proud we showed the courage to come out with the three points.”

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is an Assistant News Editor at The Irish Times