Republic of Ireland 0 Germany 6
Noel King confessed to feeling a sense of shame after his Republic of Ireland Under-21s were crushed by European champions Germany at Tallaght Stadium on Tuesday night.
His side needed a result against the group leaders to keep in the mix to reach next year’s European Championships in Italy but were completely outclassed.
Three of the six goals came from the penalty spot, while visiting goalkeeper Alexander Nubel goal was never threatened over the 90 minutes.
Ireland will need to win their last two games next month, away against Israel and Germany, to have any hope of finishing second and nicking a playoff route to Italy.
“Germany are a superb side but we certainly contributed to our own downfall,” said King after the heaviest defeat of his eight-year reign.
“They were leading us 2-0 up until the final 25 minutes and I don’t know what happened to our lads after that.
“It was the weirdest game I’ve ever been involved in because our players worked hard till the end and played well.
“However, I definitely feel a shame about the scoreline.”
It was all too routine for the Germans from the moment Aaron Seydel grabbed the lead after only six minutes by stroking the ball beyond Kieran O'Hara from the edge of the box.
Seydel missed a sitter to double the lead before Jake Mulraney committed a needless foul on Lukas Kolstermann to allow Cedric Teuchert convert a penalty on 22 minutes.
Ireland have lost debutant Seán McLoughlin at that stage to a foot injury and his replacement Shaun Donnellan did little to stem the tide rising against the home side.
Instead of King’s crew responding with any real intent, they were swept aside as Germany upped the gears in the second half.
After getting presented a third on 65 minutes when O'Hara's weak clearance was collected by Florian Newhaus who teed up Teuchert to send a rising shot into the roof of the net, the same player notched his hat-trick eight minutes later.
Liam Kinsella's foul on Max Eggestein offered Teuchert another opportunity to hammer a penalty home, which he did with aplomb.
Two more goals by half-time substitute Suat Serdar completed the rout. On 82 minutes, he converted another penalty, with the hapless Mulraney once again tripping Kolstermann. The Schalke forward then back-heeled in a second four minutes later to rub Ireland’s nose in it.
“We’ve had a really good campaign up to this, with only one defeat in the previous seven qualifiers,” reasoned King.
“The players will have to find a way to respond and I think they can.”
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: K O'Hara (Macclesfield Town); C Whelan (Crewe Alexandraw), R Delaney (Rochdale), C Shaughnessy (Leeds United), S McLoughlin (Cork City); L Kinsella (Walsall), J Cullen (Charlton Athletic); H Charsley (Everton), R Manning (Rotherham Utd), J Mulraney (Hearts); R Greco-Cox (Crawley Town).
Subs: S Donnellan (Yeovil Town) for McLoughlin (inj, 16 mins), J McGrath (Dundalk) for Manning (inj, 55 mins), J Quigley (Maidstone) for Mulraney (88 mins).
GERMANY: A Nubel (Shalke 04); L Kolstermann (RB Liepzig), T Baumgartl (VfB Stuttgart), W Anton (Hannover 96), J Torunarigha (Hertha BSC); B Henrichs (Monaco), E Lowen (FC Numberg), F Newhaus (Borussia Monchengladbach), M Eggestein (Werder Bremen); C Teuchert (Shalke 04), A Seydel (Holstein Kiel).
Subs: S Serdar (Shalke 04) for Torunarigha (46 mins), M Richter (Augsburg) for Seydel inj (54 mins), A Maier (Hertha) for Lowen (67 mins)
Referee: A Hernandez (Esp)