Sunday 19 November 2017

Randolph: We didn't see that coming at all

Darren Randolph Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Darren Randolph Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

One by one the Ireland players blazed their way through the mixed zone or at least those of them who took the required exit.

Heads bowed, refusing to engage, the question remained: who would stop and face the music? Not the country's captain, David Meyler. He made a beeline the for the bus without even blinking.

Jeff Hendrick muttered something as he headed for the hills. Ciaran Clark and Aiden McGeady followed. Each player flanked by a security guard, it all seemed a bit much.

It had been a humiliating night but someone fronting up wouldn't have gone astray.

We are unlikely to see several of these players play for Ireland again. No farewell words from Wes Hoolahan, nor Glenn Whelan who has never been fond of stopping for a few words at the best of times.

Just as all hope of attempting to gain any sort of insight into why Ireland capitulated so badly was fading, an emotional Darren Randolph emerged.

The irony was not lost that only Irish player to stop in the mixed zone was Randolph who despite conceding five goals was Ireland's best player on the night.

That in itself told its own story. Randolph composed himself and attempted to explain why Ireland's World Cup dream had descended so quickly into a nightmare.

"It's extremely disappointing obviously," Randolph said, fighting back the tears.

"We didn't see that coming. Even before the game. It's done now."

You could see how much it meant to the 'keeper and the balls he showed to at least front up told you a lot about his character.

"We needed to try and get back into the game so you're going to leave yourself open, we got punished," he continued.

Was there belief in the dressing room that Ireland could get back into the game?

"Of course, it was only 2-1," he insisted. "They got two goals in quick succession. We had to go and do that same but it obviously didn't pan out that way. And then what happened, happened."

Television seemingly didn't have much luck either but James McClean did at least offer a few words. "I don't know what to say, we shot ourselves, we got a great start and I don't know what to say.

"I'm just devastated - not just for us, but for everyone. It's been a long campaign and we just let ourselves down."

Did his side just lack the quality to take that final step?

"Maybe so, maybe the occasion... I don't know... they were just better... I don't know what to say, I'm just devastated. I don't know."

The picture in the Denmark camp was of course altogether different.

Kasper Schmeichel emerged draped in a Danish flag swigging on a bottle of beer.

Carlsberg don't do memorable evenings but if they did... Yet, how different it might have been had Ireland kicked on after they opened the scoring.

Schmeichel was caught in no man's land for Shane Duffy's goal, yet Randolph was arguably not at fault for any one of the five goals.

"I think that Copenhagen, Ireland was happy about 0-0, they didn't want to go forward," Denmark fielder Thomas Delaney said.

"To be honest, the pitch was not in our favour. Of course the Irish team probably thought it as s**t as well, which it was.

"In that type of game, it doesn't matter that much. For us it was difficult, we made mistakes. We knew, we expected to come here on a better pitch and an amazing crowd.

"You cannot underestimate the power of having a crowd like that, it pushes you forward. When we go in front, they have to get a goal and we have good players to take advantage of the room.

"The pitch is better here as well. They didn't need to score a goal because it could go to penalties but no team wants to go to penalties. So they went forward. We were convinced we could score one or two goals.

"The crowd makes it difficult for us to communicate, the goal they scored, it's a lack of communication or we cannot communicate with the noise.

"A situation that shouldn't be dangerous became dangerous. 0-0 in Copenhagen was a better result for us than Ireland I think."

So Denmark found a way of opening the tin of beans with their bare hands?

"Maybe we brought can opener. It was easy for us because they had to go forward. We wanted to play in between the lines and we did today. We were able to find Christian Eriksen in that room and we know he is a top player."

A world-class player that Ireland simply do not have.

Irish Independent

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