Ireland was the first nation eliminated from Euro 2012. After losing their opening game 3-1 to Croatia, they followed up with a comprehensive 4-0 defeat against the European and world champions Spain.
Ireland looked completely out of their depth against the slick passing and cool finishing of the Spanish. The defence that had been their strong point in qualifying for the finals was shambolic and even goalkeeper Shay Given was well below his best.
Midfielder Keith Andrews has been one of the few Irish players to do himself justice at the finals, but he admitted the team had failed to improve defensively from the opening game. "We tried to say before the game let's learn our lessons but we shot ourselves in the foot again," he said.
"They were silly goals and we didn't learn, but they're such a top side any lapse in concentration is going to hurt you. For the majority of the game we were chasing shadows and we couldn't get near them. They are a fantastic side."
Ireland have one chance to salvage something from the finals with their last group game against Italy. Andrews said the players wanted to reward the fans for their loyalty. "We're playing purely for the fans and for our own pride. They've travelled in their thousands. With seven or eight minutes to go all you can hear is the Irish fans and we're losing three or four-nil."
Pundit Roy Keane was characteristically unimpressed by that idea, insisting that the Irish players needed to change their mentality rather than just "going along for a sing-song now and then".