Duff deflated by exit

PA Sport

Damien Duff has been reflecting on the end of a dream after the Republic of Ireland's bruising defeat by Spain.

Thursday night's 4-0 drubbing in Gdansk means Ireland's involvement at Euro 2012 will come to an end with the final whistle against Italy on Monday evening, a far cry from the hopes with which they arrived in Poland.

Duff said: "I dreamed, like everyone else, of going the whole way. It is obviously not going to pan out, but what can you say?"

The Republic went into the game knowing they were up against it after losing 3-1 to Croatia in their opening Group C fixture, and well aware that only a positive result at the PGE Arena in Gdansk would give them any chance of making the quarter-finals.

In the event, they were simply blown away by the reigning world and European champions on a night when they were once again made to pay for mistakes at the back.

Duff said: "We didn't help ourselves at times. Even at 1-0 at half-time, you come out and think, 'Right, let's keep it at that for 20, 25 minutes, maybe they will get a bit nervous'.

"But we didn't help ourselves. You are going to be pulled all over the place, really, with them. We did well at times and defended well at times, but we shot ourselves in the foot again."

Ireland now face the prospect of trying to stop Italy from sending them home pointless in a game which is far from a dead rubber for their opponents. Italy's draw with Croatia means they have only two points from their opening two games with Spain and Croatia both on four.

As a result, they have to win and even then, a 2-2 draw between Spain and Croatia would put them out, a similar fate to the one they suffered at Euro 2004 when Denmark and Sweden shared four goals and both progressed at their expense amid unseemly and unproven allegations.

However, none of that will matter to Duff and his team-mates as they attempt to extend their recent good record against Cesare Prandelli's side. He said: "I hope we will be looking forward to it. We will get ourselves up for it. We are a proud set of lads and a proud nation, and we want to give people back home and the fans last night especially something to cheer about."

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