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Friday 20 October 2017

Defeat a kick up the backside – Whelan

AND THERE we were, getting all carried away with ourselves, just like the economy over the past decade, writes AIDAN FITZMAURICE.

Dreams of a home win and an away defeat of Slovakia to set us up for the rest of the Euro 2012 campaign with the job half done, tickets to Warsaw and Kyiv already booked.

Before the crash came, not inflicted by Seanie Fitz and his mates but last night in Dublin 4 by a bunch of very talented and very admirable men from the east called Igor, Vasily, Yuri and Sergei.

Yes, Irish dreams of taking an early stranglehold on the Group B table were shattered into tiny pieces by that stunning 70-minute Russian masterclass last night, and Ireland midfielder Glenn Whelan feels that the defeat by s a much-needed wake-up call to Irish football and those thoughts of a smooth passage to the finals in Poland and Ukraine.

"It is a kick up the backside for us in terms of how hard it's going to be to qualify, but we have to look at ourselves and how we performed. We came back late on and that shows that we won't give up, but on the night it just wasn't good enough," he said.

"It was a hard for us in midfield, we were outnumbered in there at times.

"Every time we seemed to get close to something, the Russians had another man there. They had a game plan and it worked for them.

"We have a way of playing and it's worked so far in the qualification, but Russia came to Dublin with their own gameplan.

"We have to sit down today and watch the video and see where things could have gone better for us. Come Tuesday we will be better prepared.

"The manager picks the side and the way we play, but we have to try and perform a bit better so we can qualify," added the Irishman.

"We have to try and win it there (in Zilina) on Tuesday. Slovakia had a bad result last night but we need the three points there and hopefully we can do that."

The Stoke City man was substituted in the 66th minute, replaced by Darron Gibson, and there were fears that Whelan -- who has missed just one competitive game in Giovanni Trapattoni's two-year reign -- could be a doubt for Tuesday's tie, but the 26-year-old insists he'll be fit.

"I felt my hamstring in the first half so I came off early in the second half, but more as a precaution than anything else and I should be fine for Tuesday," he confirmed.

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