'We can go out there with the best in the world and put up a fight and compete'
Ireland midfielder Jayson Molumby says that the team's performance at home to France is a sign that Stephen Kenny's men can compete with the best in the world.
West Brom midfielder Molumby, one of Ireland's stand-out players in a 1-0 loss to France, says the side were "gutted" to lose by a one-goal margin to a side who have reached back to back World Cup finals.
"I think we all believe in each other now and we've got some top players, we've got some really exciting young players coming through as well and I think showed at times that our technical ability is up there as well," he said after Monday night's 1-0 loss.
"We can go out there with the best in the world and put up a fight and compete. I feel like we can be proud of ourselves. Going into the game we wanted to win. There was no 'shut up shop' or try and limit them or respect them in any way shape or form.
"We wanted to go in and try and win the game. Credit to them because I thought the game plan was excellent and on another day I think we at least get the draw. It’s just disappointing.
"We worked tirelessly all week, I think we all knew what we were doing out there and maybe the fans and people looking on realise that. The fans were unbelievable.
"When you are it and when they’re fighting with you it’s unbelievable, you feel like you have an extra man. I felt that there , it felt like they were behind us. They were brilliant so credit to them.
"It was an unfortunate goal to concede on our behalf but on another night, I think we get something from the game.
"I'm proud of the lads, proud of the fans tonight. Obviously I am really gutted but I was proud out there of how everyone put in a good shift and we were unlucky in the end," added Molumby.
He hailed AC Milan keeper Mike Maignan for the save which denied Nathan Collins a late equaliser.
"We all thought it was in. Obviously we're gutted, the goalkeeper has pulled off a worldie, to be fair," the Waterford native said. The fans were brilliant, they nearly sucked the ball into the net in the end, at that end. But it was a top class save from their keeper."
Ireland captain Séamus Coleman admitted he was “disappointed” with the loss.
The 34-year-old returned to the side having been rested for last week’s Latvia friendly but also pointed to positives from the Boys in Greens’ performance.
"We performed very well. We are disappointed," he remarked. "There was such a great atmosphere. The crowd were magnificent.
"France were holding on at the end. But we get no points from that.
"We played really well. We have to take the positives from that. This display will put us in good stead going into the summer games.
"This is the marker that we have set. We have to carry on the momentum now. And that's what we have to do. It's not just about playing France under the lights.
"We showed good discipline. We worked so hard. We were knocking on the door.
"I thought the header from Nathan Collins was in. On another night, that one goes in.
"We kept them to limited chances. We are all disappointed in the dressing-room. But there is such a sense of togetherness in the group.
"We all love playing for the national team. And it's something that I never take for granted. It's the best feeling in the world."
Chiedozie Ogbene hailed Ireland's display following the defeat and his selection as the man of the match.
"There were so many positives to take from the game," he said. "We created enough chances. We could have got a draw out of it.
"We were unfortunate. We gave it everything. And that came from our application. The way that we prepared for the game.
"I feel we emerged with so much credit from the match. We gave it everything. I think we should be proud of ourselves.
"We put up such a great display against one of the best teams in the world. Maybe the best team in the world.
"I am happy with the display, but, of course, disappointed that we didn't get the result.
"We'll take so much from this game now and hopefully we can rectify it in the away match.
"The future's bright. Especially after a performance like that.
"We were unlucky with the header from Nathan Collins. In fairness, their 'keeper made some top saves. Especially when the pressure came on them late on.
"We worked so hard out there. We deserved to get something out of it. We knew we were up against such a quality side, but the display shows how much we have come on as a team."