We've shown we're as good as anybody, insists upbeat Keogh
Derby man adamant Ireland will bounce back and reach promised land, writes John Brennan
Richard Keogh only played against Germany and Poland because of Ireland's lengthy injury list, but the experience has turned the Derby County centre-half into a believer in a bright future for Irish football.
As he reflected on the defeat to Poland on Sunday night, Keogh was still certain that the Euro 2016 odyssey will end happily for the Boys in Green.
"I think we've shown we're as good as anybody," said the 29-year-old. "To take four points off Germany shows what we're capable of. Our group was the hardest out of anybody's so to finish third is no disgrace.
"To take it to the last day and nearly qualify was a great effort. The reality is we were only one more goal against Poland away from qualifying, that is all we needed."
However, Keogh is frustrated that he must now wait until Sunday morning to find out who Ireland face in the play-off and then wait a further three weeks for the games that will settle Ireland's Euro 2016 fate.
"It's disappointing not have it settled now. I thought the first half against the Poles was scrappy and there was not much in the game. They took their only two chances," he said.
"We got back in and I thought we were better in the second half. I thought we were on top and passed the ball better, of course they were falling back a bit to protect the lead, but we took the game to Poland.
"We'd only a short recovery time from the German game, but we looked strong and fit and I think they were a bit nervous.
"We smelt something in the second half, but we just couldn't get the goal. We can take a lot into the play-off from that second-half performance. We looked strong and passed the ball well but they got the result and we didn't.
"I don't think they were better than us," Keogh (pictured) continued. "We've still got another chance and we'll dust ourselves down for that.
"I've got every confidence in this group of boys that they have what it takes to do the business.
"A lot of people wrote us off to even get third so to give ourselves a chance of qualifying directly and now through a play-off deserves a lot of credit."
Keogh revealed that Martin O'Neill was still upbeat in the dressing -room after the game.
"He just said that he's proud of everyone and the effort given. Like the players, the manager will go into the play-offs full of confidence," he said.
Keogh repeated his manager's assertion that getting four points off Germany in any competition usually meant you have won the thing.
"But we just couldn't get that one goal against Poland, that was it in the end."