Ireland's UEFA Cup glory ends with final defeat
Irish captain Robbie Keane paid tribute to the travelling fans
Ireland’s European Championship adventure ended in defeat and disarray as Giovanni Trapattoni’s side were beaten 2-0 by Italy in Poznan on Monday night.
Antonio Cassano scored in the first-half off a corner and Mario Balotelli grabbed a sensational second late on as Italy made the last eight.
They join Spain - 1-0 winners over Croatia on the night - in the quarter-finals as Ireland went home with nothing to show for their efforts.
They even ended their final Group C game with just 10 men when Keith Andrews was red carded for petulance just before the second goal and then kicked a ball into the crowd in anger.
Ireland lost all three matches at the Euros, scored just one goal and conceded nine to match the worst ever record at the tournament.
Irish captain Robbie Keane paid tribute to the travelling fans afterwards but admitted they had been one of the few bright spots of the competition.
"The last three games, they've been fantastic," he told BBC3.
"It's a shame we didn't perform as well as we can and perform for them because if anyone deserves it, it's them.
"I think we played well tonight without really creating too many chances. It's one of those things. It's certainly disappointing we didn't get something out of the group.
"We're all disappointed, but we've been beaten by better teams."
Asked if this was likely to have been the final appearance for several of Ireland's senior players, Keane said: "We'll have to see."
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