Euro 2012: We still believe we can win group after bad luck cost us -- Dunne
While many of his team-mates sought refuge in perceived injustice following Sunday's dismal defeat in Poznan, the ever sincere Richard Dunne refused to take the easy option.
He knew his side hadn't been carved open by one of the tournament favourites. And neither could his side's submission be explained away in the hoary clichés of ref-bashing.
"They weren't outstanding either," he demurs, when invited to share his team-mates' -- and manager's -- sense of mis-placed grievance.
"It was just lucky breaks. Maybe we had a bit of luck in games on the way here, and then everything that could have gone against us, did go against us.
"They had lucky decisions throughout the game. But we've no excuses. We prepared well, we were ready to go and it just didn't happen for us on the night.
"It wasn't great. We had such a build-up to a big tournament and it just didn't go for us. We didn't play to 100pc of our capabilities and that's what we need in every game to be competitive.
"For different reasons we just, I don't what it was... but they got the goals at good times for them and that really killed us off.
"We weren't at it but we looked comfortable when it was 1-1 but then they nicked a goal, and within four minutes either side of a half, they've got the goals and it's sort of game over and it's very difficult.
"We just have to pick ourselves up, we can't be too downbeat. We've got two more chances to get ourselves through."
Only wild optimists would describe the world and European champions as an opportunity; Ireland have little option but to think this way.
"It's still a massive occasion for everyone back home," insists Dunne.
"People spend all their money to come over here and watch us so we've got to make sure on Thursday our heads will be right -- and we'll go there to win the game.
"We have to believe we can still get out of this group. We came to win all three games. This is a setback, without a doubt, and we've got two really tough games coming up.
"But this is what we came for, we want to play against the best teams, we want to see where we are. This is the opportunity that we've craved for a long, long time.
"We understand that we'll be written off and not given a chance. But we've got 180 minutes of football, why not? We've done it before.
"We've beaten bigger teams that Croatia. We can go and win the games. Especially when everything is going against us. We still believe we can win our group and we just want everyone to keep supporting us.
"We've been blown away by the support. It was the same all day in our hotel and on Sunday in our hotel, they've been amazing. That is one of the biggest disappointments. They've not got the result that they deserve. Hopefully we can turn it around for them.
"We still believe we can go and win the games. This is disappointing and we wanted to get off to a good start but there is still two games to go so there is no point in packing up and going home. Come back to me on Monday and hopefully we've got enough points to go through."
While Ireland had been confident of winning their opener, Croatia's pre-match conviction had been vastly better placed.
"They could only hurt us from their free-kicks and they did," said Spurs schemer Luka Modric. "But it didn't shake us too much. We knew we were better than the Irish."
His point had been baldly emphasised by coach Slaven Bilic in the post-match press conference, a theme expanded upon yesterday.
"It was an excellent match," agreed Modric's erstwhile Spurs colleague, now Dynamo Kiev-bound Niko Kranjcar.
"I think we dominated for the whole 90 minutes, and we deserved to win. I think our class was evident. The coach's tactics definitely worked. We have done what we came here to do, which was to win the first match. We thought we were the favourites."
"We did everything our coach told us to do," added Nikica Jelavic. "We attacked, we put them under pressure, we created lots of chances. The result could have been even more emphatic, but we are very happy with the three points."