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Sunday, 16 June, 2002, 14:30 GMT 15:30 UK

McCarthy hails beaten heroes

Republic of Ireland boss Mick McCarthy paid tribute to his players after their dramatic penalty shoot-out defeat by Spain.

Ireland paid the price for having three spot-kicks saved as they were denied a place in the quarter-finals.

But McCarthy refused to blame the players who missed and praised the way the side had battled back to force extra-time.

" It's very tough for the lads who took the penalties and I've got no criticism of them at all "
Mick McCarthy

"I'm very proud. We didn't deserve an end like that - we deserved to win in normal time," he said.

"They are a wonderful bunch of people. I'm proud to have had a chance to work with them.

"I said to them before the penalties 'whatever happens there will be no recriminations'.

"We've had a wonderful World Cup. We would have loved to go to the quarter-final and we deserved to.

"I've nothing but admiration for the players - even the ones who didn't play.

"It's very tough for the lads who took the penalties and I've got no criticism of them at all."


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