|Irish fans react to Ireland's 2-0 loss against Italy|
They were first to go out of the tournament, on their way home when the real games were just beginning.
Worse they conceded nine goals and scored just one.
They were outplayed, out coached, out thought in every facet of the game.
The only winners were their 30,000 supporters who charmed everyone they met and stayed faithful to the end.
Their team were the Toledo Mud Hens against the New York Yankees, the Carolina Gophers against the Boston Celtics, the ..well never mind you get the point
They were expected to have a tough time in their group with World Champions Spain, perennial contenders Italy, and up and coming Croatia.
But losing by such huge margins?
That was hardly expected.
After all they had qualified in a tough group, almost matched the Russians who won their qualifying group and had been unbeaten in 15 games before the Polish caper.
But that was the minor league and when they stepped up into the majors they completely collapsed.
There were several reasons:
They no longer are able to claim most of the talented second generation Irish from England and Scotland they used to have, players like Ray Hougton and Tony Cascarino were the cream of the old team that regularly qualified for World Cups
British soccer authorities have gotten wise to the Irish poaching and make sure their young players are given international exposure and kept away from the Irish marauders.
The result is a lot of mediocre Irish-born players make the team.
Secondly, because of the massive foreign presence in the English premiership, this Irish team did not have one quality player from the top levels of that league, no one from Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City.
In the old days, players like Roy Keane and Paul McGrath were from the very upper echelons and performed like that.
Thirdly, Coach Giovanni Trapattoni is too old and set in his ways. Defensive football, allowing teams like Spain to play the game in your half, is a crazy tactic.
He deliberately insulted the skills of this Irish side by a negative at all costs attitude.
Many on this team remember, played on an Irish side that lost to France narrowly and unfairly in a World Cup play off qualifier two years ago.
In that play-off game an attacking Irish side almost snatched a famous victory.
But Trap and attack bear no relationship to each other.
Rumors and stories have spread that the Irish players defied the manager to play like that back then.
It is a young man’s game , at the coaching level as well.
What Ireland needs is a new manager, an infusion of young talent and a commitment to the beautiful game more than kicking endless long balls up the field and hoping for the best.
And a bunch of English Irish kids ready to play for the old country.
I won’t hold my breath.