What a week for Cork's rising soccer stars in the Irish colours!

What a week for Cork's rising soccer stars in the Irish colours!
Cathal Heffernan of Republic of Ireland, left, celebrates after scoring for the U15s against Poland. Picture: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

ALAN Browne cut a distraught figure at full time.

The Cork native gave everything, he ran himself into the ground for the cause but despite his best efforts, it just wasn’t to be their night.

His own performance typified the overall performance from the Republic of Ireland last Monday night.

Plenty of guts and endeavour but in the end it just wasn’t enough as they could only draw 1-1 with Denmark instead of getting the win that they needed.

“It feels like a loss for us and the fans and everyone as a whole,” is how Browne summed it up when talking to the FAI shortly after full time deep in the bowels of the Aviva stadium.

In any other circumstances a draw at home against a Danish side featuring the likes of Kasper Schmeichel and Christian Eriksen wouldn’t be disastrous.

But on this occasion it was. It was there for Ireland. A win at home in your final group game to qualify for the European Championships, to confirm that your country will play two, potentially three group stage games in the 2020 Euros in your own capital.

It was an incredible opportunity that Mick McCarthy’s men just couldn’t take. They may lament that more than the Thierry Henry handball in the years to come particularly when you look at just how poor the Danes were on the night.

They were second best on the night but they still came away with a point. You can’t fault the Irish for effort - you rarely can - but again this just goes to show the lack of quality in the senior side at the moment.

“We left everything on the pitch, we gave it our all and I think their goal killed us a little bit. We came out, threw the kitchen sink at it but it just wasn't to be on the night,” added Browne.

David McGoldrick was excellent up front. He was bossing defenders, bringing others in to play and his touch was superb but he has only scored one international goal.

We all know about the quality that Sean Maguire possesses but he was brought to rescue the Republic just a few days after he netted his first ever goal in the famous green jersey.

But what a goal that was, he emphatically drilled it into the top right corner from the edge of the box albeit it was against New Zealand.

Callum Robinson was also brought on to save Ireland and he also scored his first goal for his country against the All Whites.

And the aforementioned Alan Browne has only scored once, although there shouldn’t be too much pressure on him to get the goals.

But that is the issue, only seven goals scored in the eight group games is a poor return. But considering they played against Gibraltar home and away, that return is absolutely appalling.

“It is a feeling of disappointment now in the dressing room and it is something we are not going to think of right now but there is still another chance to qualify and we will give it our all in March again.

"We knew that coming into the game but this was the night you wanted to do it, that was the night you wanted to qualify and give the fans something to cheer about.

"But as I said before, it just wasn't meant to be so we are going to have to regroup and go again in March,” concluded Browne.

That said, there are a lot of positives. They may have only scored seven goals but they only conceded five which is one of the best defensive records in the qualifiers.

He may not have mentioned it at the time but Browne himself must be pleased with how he has played and how he has forced himself into McCarthy’s plans.

The fact the manager had faith to throw him into vital games against Switzerland home and away and now this Denmark match should give him confidence heading into next spring.

Sticking with the positives from a Cork point of view, John Egan has also performed admirably at the back end of this group stage.

Not only has he now made the remaining centre-back position alongside Shane Duffy his own, but he is also arguably one of the first names on the team sheet in general.

Sheffield United's French striker Lys Mousset celebrates with David McGoldrick and John Egan after scoring the winning goal against Arsenal. Picture: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images
Sheffield United's French striker Lys Mousset celebrates with David McGoldrick and John Egan after scoring the winning goal against Arsenal. Picture: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

And with Conor Hourihane growing in stature with Aston Villa as the Premier League season wears on, it seems like Ireland’s hopes of progressing through the playoffs will depend largely on the Cork natives.

A lot of attention was given to that key game in Dublin of course but there were a number of other Cork players making an impact at national level recently.

Cork City’s Oran Crowe played his part as the Republic of Ireland U17s - managed by Colin O’Brien - progressed to the Elite Round of the qualifiers with a perfect record of three wins in three with the three games taking place at Turner’s Cross.

Tyreik Wright incredibly scored four goals in Ireland’s U19 remarkable win against Gibraltar but they missed out on the Elite round.

Adam Idah scored for the U21s and Cathal Heffernan did likewise for the U15s while Nathalie O’Brien became Ireland’s Deaf Futsal team’s all time top goalscorer with 15 goals in 15 games.

Cork's Adam Idah hitting the net for the Irish U21s against Sweden during the week. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Cork's Adam Idah hitting the net for the Irish U21s against Sweden during the week. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

So there may have been major disappointment from an Irish seniors' point of view but there are some positives to take this week. Especially from a Cork perspective.

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