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Keane's regret for 'fantastic' Irish faithful

Robbie Keane paid tribute to the "fantastic" fans who cheered the Republic of Ireland on in the 2-0 defeat by Italy, while Stephen Ward doffed his cap to "three better Group C sides".

Robbie Keane said the Republic of Ireland fans deserve a big hand
Robbie Keane said the Republic of Ireland fans deserve a big hand ©Getty Images

The Republic of Ireland were disappointed to finish their UEFA EURO 2012 campaign with a 2-0 defeat by Italy, but it was the supporters for whom Robbie Keane, Sean St Ledger and Stephen Ward felt the most pity after a third successive Group C loss.

Robbie Keane, Republic of Ireland forward
The last three games [the fans] have been fantastic and it's a shame that the team didn't perform as well as we know we can and we didn't get a result for them, because if anyone deserves it, it's these supporters.

We played well tonight, but without really creating too many chances either, so it's one of those things where we're certainly disappointed that we didn't get something out of the group, and I'm sure all the players are disappointed but it's one of those things. It was set pieces that have hurt us again so that's something that's been the same for the last few games. It's one of those things because in previous games we were quite solid in that department.

Stephen Ward, Republic of Ireland defender
It was a tough game. I felt our performance was a lot better than the previous two. We had Italy on the ropes a bit in the second half; they were under the cosh and under a lot of pressure. It was unfortunate [that] we couldn't stick one in the net. We were unlucky a few times, and obviously they scored again from another set piece, which is disappointing but we'll all learn from the tournament experience. We've got to hold our hands up and just say we came up against three better sides and I think their quality has shown through.

We looked dangerous from [set pieces] and just the bounce of a ball here and there did not go our way, and we've been a bit unlucky. I think our fans are just unbelievable. No matter what's gone on on the pitch the people of Poland will take away the experience of having seen probably the best fans in the world. They acquitted themselves really well and they were an absolute credit to the country.

Jon Walters, Republic of Ireland forward
It's the result that matters and we didn't get it today or in any of the three games. We wanted to get something out of the game, simple as that. [Italy are] a good team, they've got very good players, but you're always going to be up against that when you come into a tournament and you've got to deal with that. At the end of the day, it's only 11 against 11 and we didn't put our mark on the game.

We got beat by a set piece for the first goal, a set piece for the second – they're the details that matter in matches and they let us down. [The atmosphere] was unreal. The fans were right behind us and we wanted to get something out of the game for them more than anything, and show a bit of pride, but we didn't manage to do that