Pain of Paris gone but not forgotten -- Keane
PARIS will never be forgotten by the players who suffered at the hand of Thierry Henry, but the pain inflicted on that fateful 2009 night means that Ireland's achievements are all the more satisfying.
That was the message from an ebullient Robbie Keane, who was one of the last to leave Lansdowne Road on Tuesday night. Krystle nightclub and champagne beckoned, but the LA Galaxy man wanted to soak up his greatest glory, leading his team back to a major championships for the first time in 10 years.
After the bad days, the near misses and the injustice, it was clear that Euro 2012 means an awful lot to the Ireland captain.
"I don't think anything makes up for the disappointments, especially in France a couple of years ago," he admitted.
"You look back on that, you see the disappointment in the dressing-room after that game and you see the celebrations now, we were tremendous and the atmosphere after the game was brilliant. Tuesday was fantastic and a great moment for every player that was involved.
"The lads were devastated after the (France) game, not just because of what happened with their goal, but with the performance and the way we played, we deserved to win that game. That is history now, look at tonight and the scenes after the game; it makes up for it just a little."
Damien Duff hinted that the footballers needed to get back to centre stage in the aftermath of the game, adding: "It's important that we qualified for a major tournament and maybe get people talking about football again. Around Lansdowne Road, it's rugby, rugby, rugby."
Keane insisted that the two sports and sets of internationals are not in opposition, but he was delighted that the football team could lift the mood of the country.
"It is tough times for everyone, the players are aware of that and appreciate it," he explained.
"It is amazing what football can do, what sport in general can do. The rugby lads gave the country a lift and now football can do it. Since we've been back from Tallinn the whole country seems to be buzzing, it is a massive vibe, like rolling back the years.
"There is no competition because everyone wants Ireland to do well in any sport. I was even watching Ireland in the cricket in the World Cup.
"As long as the country is doing well, it's fantastic. The rugby lads did fantastic, and everyone involved in this team has done tremendous, not just this campaign, but the campaign before it. We've got our reward in the end."