SHANE DUFFY was close to tears as the Republic of Ireland crashed out of the Euro 2021 semi-final against Slovakia in Bratislava last night.
Celtic’s on-loan central defender from Brighton captained Stephen Kenny’s team, but neither nation could break the deadlock after extra-time with a dramatic encounter finishing scoreless.
Duffy’s hopes of reaching the Final play-off were dashed when the home nation won 4-2 with their efforts from the spot.
The centre-back, speaking to Sky Sports News, said: “We’re disappointed and it’s hard to really put it into words. It’s never nice to lose on penalties, so it’s a tough one to take at the minute.
“We created chances and it just wasn’t our night when things just didn’t drop for us.
“Both teams cancelled each other out in the end and penalties is the luck of the draw. It’s hard to take. They had four good penalties, to be fair, and our lads were brave stepping up to take one.
“We’ll get back together and go again.”
Alan Browne and Matt Doherty were the men who missed the crucial efforts to veto any hopes of taking part in next summer’s championships.
Slovakia will now progress to face Northern Ireland they beat Bosnia & Herzegovina on penalties during a dramatic night of European action.
Duffy and his team-mates are back in action on Sunday when they renew their Nations League campaign with a game against Wales.
Looking back at the action in Bratislava, boss Kenny added: “I couldn’t have asked for more from my players. They showed great qualities as men and as Irishmen. They showed themselves to be a real team, and everyone did as much as they could.
“As the game progressed, I felt we were in the ascendancy and looked like we really wanted to win it.
“We had some good chances, but just couldn’t find the goal we needed. Right at the end of the game and in extra-time, we had chances and it’s a very harsh way to lose, but it’s the way it goes.
“I don’t think you could say it’s bad luck, but the players did everything they could to win the game. The work-rate was phenomenal. They didn’t deserve to lose the game, and the determination to try and win to get to the play-off final was very evident.
“It’s a cruel way to lose on penalties. We defended well all night and created some good chances. Some of the forward play, especially from David McGoldrick, was outstanding at times. The players deserved better.”
Kenny also confirmed afterwards Aaron Connolly and Adam Idah had been ruled out at the last minute after it emerged that a second FAI staff member had tested positive for Covid-19.