'The Irish Had Owned The Game'

'The Irish Had Owned The Game'
By PJ Browne
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There's no doubt that Irish players walked off the Stade de Lyon pitch with nothing left in their legs.

Over the last 20 minutes - especially following the red card for Shane Duffy - it was obvious the players in green were drained. They had little left to give.

The first 45 minutes promised so much. But in the second half, between the 58th and 66th minutes - Griezmann's equaliser to Duffy's sending off - the French put a dagger in Irish hopes.

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The Irish performance was one which received recognition from French players and management.

Interviewed by Tony O'Donoghue on RTÉ after the game, Oliver Giroud - one of the architects of the Irish loss - noted France's respect for Martin O'Neill's side.

Today Ireland played very well until the red card. After, obviously, it was easier for us. They never gave up and we expected that. I want to say that Irish fans can be proud of them. We really respected them.

Patrice Evra told the Irish players their performance was one of which supporters will be proud.

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We want to congratulate the Irish team... I think all the fans should be proud, that's what I said to the players.

France manager Didier Deschamps admitted that in the first half, Ireland 'owned' the game.

It was hard. It was still a bit twitchy , the Irish had owned the game . We did some good things in the first half but I wanted to add more offensive presence and have Griezmann closer to Giroud, with the speed of Kingsley ( Coman ) . They were made to suffer. One would shelter with a third goal , but it is not easy for anyone : look at Croatia, everyone saw in half or in the final ... The objective is achieved .

Although we need discipline, we must not calculate too . Players are good when there is madness and rhythm. It is there that is the most dangerous . We will say 'it's only Eire' but it 's never easy against them and we just did not have the right not qualify. I am also happy for the fans. It was a lot of support from the beginning. Tomorrow we will quietly watch other matches in this chair.

Immediately post-match, there was an emotional moment between West Ham teammates Darren Randolph and Dimitri Payet.

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