Walters: We just haven't been good enough

Aidan Fitzmaurice

IRELAND striker Jonathan Walters admits he's at a loss to explain why Ireland have gone from having the meanest defence in Europe to conceding nine goals in three Euro 2012 games.

The Stoke City forward has been one of the few Irish players to emerge from Euro 2012 with any real credit as in his appearances against Croatia, Spain and Italy he did try to contribute to the Irish attack, helping out again against the Italians last night despite not delivering a goal. Walters played in the side which cruised though friendly games and Carling Nations Cup matches without being beaten but that 14-game run now lies in tatters.

"It was a frustrating night against Italy and a frustrating tournament for us all. We just weren't good enough," Walters admitted today.

"To have conceded in the way we have through the tournament is hard to explain. We conceded from set pieces again last night, the little details that we always work on and try to combat, it's hard to take."

Through the tournament, the team-sheet of the opposing side has underlined the gulf in class between Ireland and the other teams in Group C.

Against Spain, Ireland faced a side made up of players from Real Madrid and Barcelona, with interlopers from Manchester City and Chelsea. Last night, Italy's starting XI had five men from Juventus and two from AC Milan, while we make do with our boys from Stoke, West Brom and Wolves.

"It's still 11 against 11 players, once you get out on that pitch it doesn't matter what names are on the back of their jerseys or what clubs they play for, you have to just do your best and we haven't been good enough in the tournament," added Walters.

"We do have good players, the likes of James McClean and Shane Long have played in the finals and that experience will be good for them as they try to push on.

"And it would be great to see Marc Wilson in the squad."