On the face of it a 0-0 draw in the Czech Republic was a decent result for us to end our World Cup qualifying campaign.
Personally I thought the Czechs were there for the taking on Wednesday night, so I was a bit disappointed that we didn’t win.
It was a much better result and performance though than our last game at home to Slovakia when we lost 2-0.
That match will be regarded as the one in which we blew our World Cup dream.
But delving a little deeper into the campaign, it was the start that killed us.
We lost to Slovakia and Slovenia on the road and only picked a point up at home to the Czech Republic in our first three games.
We didn’t get our first win on the board until the fourth match and that was against San Marino! We did fight back into contention with some good results, but it proved to be a bridge too far.
That is something we must learn ahead of the Euro 2012 qualifiers. It is vital we get off to a quick start because it puts pressure on other sides in the group.
Something else we must learn is to win away from home against sides that are supposedly in or around our level.
In the last two campaigns we have got draws away to Denmark, Sweden, Poland and the Czech Republic, all teams seeded above us, yet for whatever reason we always lose to teams like Latvia, Iceland, Slovenia and Slovakia who we should be able to compete against.
They are banana skin matches and we slip up all the time.
It’s not good enough.
I’m still not totally convinced we have the belief to go all the way either. We should have after what we have achieved in recent years, but when push comes to shove I genuinely wonder if we truly feel we can top a group.
We really have to find that belief and start thinking we deserve to compete in the finals of a World Cup or European Championship. On the upside there is a lot to be positive about.
On Wednesday against the Czechs for instance I thought that Niall McGinn showed that he had more than a few tricks in his locker.
Niall has pace and the ability to beat defenders which is going to be come in very useful for us in years to come.
I know Nigel Worthington asked him and fellow youngster Ryan McGivern to become men down the left in Prague and that’s exactly what they did.
Both proved they can cut it at international level. That was a plus point, but it wasn’t the only one in the campaign.
Kyle Lafferty’s performance and goal in Poland was exceptional as was Warren Feeney’s stunning header to beat Slovenia at Windsor Park.
Grant McCann scored a couple of fine goals and it was pleasing to see big Gareth McAuley net for the first time for Northern Ireland away to San Marino.
Our fans will also reflect on the day we beat Poland at Windsor because of Artur Boruc’s mistakes. That was a memorable win for us.
Ultimately though we will have to watch the World Cup finals on television. It’s hard to take because it could have been different had we made a better start.
Finally I’d like to mentioned Northern Ireland fan Andy Allen, who was at our team hotel this week. Andy is a soldier who lost both his legs at war. There was a TV programme featuring him recently and his story was inspirational.
It really made me feel proud to be from Northern Ireland. It was a real honour to meet him.
Andy gets married this weekend and I’d like to wish him and his bride a wonderful day.