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24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN. Northern Ireland fans react to going 1-0 down

24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN. Northern Ireland fans react to going 1-0 down

Robbie Keane celebrates his sides second goal during this evenings Carling Cup of Nations game between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin.

Robbie Keane celebrates his sides second goal during this evenings Carling Cup of Nations game between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin.

Carling Nations Cup - Republic of Ireland v Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland fans

Carling Nations Cup - Republic of Ireland v Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland fans

Darren Kidd

Republic of Ireland's Robbie Keane celebrates scoring

Republic of Ireland's Robbie Keane celebrates scoring

©INPHO/Donall Farmer

24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN. Northern Ireland fans pictured outside the Aviva stadium

24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN. Northern Ireland fans pictured outside the Aviva stadium

24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN. Tempers flare up as the Republic of Ireland fans and Northern Ireland fans in the service station chant at each other

24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN. Tempers flare up as the Republic of Ireland fans and Northern Ireland fans in the service station chant at each other

24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN. Tempers flare up as the Republic of Ireland fans and Northern Ireland fans in the service station chant at each other

24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN. Tempers flare up as the Republic of Ireland fans and Northern Ireland fans in the service station chant at each other

24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN. Tempers flare up as the Republic of Ireland fans and Northern Ireland fans in the service station chant at each other

24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN. Tempers flare up as the Republic of Ireland fans and Northern Ireland fans in the service station chant at each other

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24:  Craig Cathcart of Northern Ireland scores an own goal during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24: Craig Cathcart of Northern Ireland scores an own goal during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Mike Hewitt

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24:  Ireland fans celebrate their 5-0 victory during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24: Ireland fans celebrate their 5-0 victory during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Mike Hewitt

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24:  Kevin Foley of Ireland (R) is challenged by Sammy Clingan of Northern Ireland during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24: Kevin Foley of Ireland (R) is challenged by Sammy Clingan of Northern Ireland during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Mike Hewitt

Carling Nations Cup, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 24/5/2011Republic of Ireland vs Northern IrelandRepublic of Ireland's Robbie Keane celebrates scoring his second goalMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan *** Local Caption ***

Carling Nations Cup, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 24/5/2011Republic of Ireland vs Northern IrelandRepublic of Ireland's Robbie Keane celebrates scoring his second goalMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan *** Local Caption ***

©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Carling Nations Cup, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 24/5/2011Republic of Ireland vs Northern IrelandIreland manager Giovanni TrapattoniMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer *** Local Caption ***

Carling Nations Cup, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 24/5/2011Republic of Ireland vs Northern IrelandIreland manager Giovanni TrapattoniMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer *** Local Caption ***

©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Carling Nations Cup, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 24/5/2011Republic of Ireland vs Northern IrelandRobbie Keane scores Ireland's fourth goal from the penalty spotMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer *** Local Caption ***

Carling Nations Cup, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 24/5/2011Republic of Ireland vs Northern IrelandRobbie Keane scores Ireland's fourth goal from the penalty spotMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer *** Local Caption ***

©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Carling Nations Cup, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 24/5/2011Republic of Ireland vs Northern IrelandRepublic of Ireland's Robbie Keane scores his second goal from the penalty spotMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan *** Local Caption ***

Carling Nations Cup, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 24/5/2011Republic of Ireland vs Northern IrelandRepublic of Ireland's Robbie Keane scores his second goal from the penalty spotMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan *** Local Caption ***

©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Carling Nations Cup, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 24/5/2011Republic of Ireland vs Northern IrelandRepublic of Ireland's Robbie Keane is fouled by Adam Thompson of Northern Ireland resulting in a penaltyMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan *** Local Caption ***

Carling Nations Cup, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 24/5/2011Republic of Ireland vs Northern IrelandRepublic of Ireland's Robbie Keane is fouled by Adam Thompson of Northern Ireland resulting in a penaltyMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan *** Local Caption ***

©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Carling Nations Cup, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 24/5/2011Republic of Ireland vs Northern IrelandRobbie Keane celebrates scoring Ireland's fourth goal from the penalty spotMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer *** Local Caption ***

Carling Nations Cup, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 24/5/2011Republic of Ireland vs Northern IrelandRobbie Keane celebrates scoring Ireland's fourth goal from the penalty spotMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer *** Local Caption ***

©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Carling Nations Cup, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 24/5/2011Republic of Ireland vs Northern IrelandAdam Thompson of Northern Ireland is sent off by referee Craig ThompsonMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer *** Local Caption ***

Carling Nations Cup, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 24/5/2011Republic of Ireland vs Northern IrelandAdam Thompson of Northern Ireland is sent off by referee Craig ThompsonMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer *** Local Caption ***

©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Carling Nations Cup, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 24/5/2011Republic of Ireland vs Northern IrelandRepublic of Ireland's Robbie Keane is fouled by Adam Thompson of Northern Ireland resulting in a penaltyMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan *** Local Caption ***

Carling Nations Cup, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 24/5/2011Republic of Ireland vs Northern IrelandRepublic of Ireland's Robbie Keane is fouled by Adam Thompson of Northern Ireland resulting in a penaltyMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan *** Local Caption ***

©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Carling Nations Cup, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 24/5/2011Republic of Ireland vs Northern IrelandRepublic of Ireland's Robbie Keane celebrates scoring his second goalMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan *** Local Caption ***

Carling Nations Cup, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 24/5/2011Republic of Ireland vs Northern IrelandRepublic of Ireland's Robbie Keane celebrates scoring his second goalMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan *** Local Caption ***

©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Carling Nations Cup, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 24/5/2011Republic of Ireland vs Northern IrelandRobbie Keane celebrates scoring Ireland's fourth goal from the penalty spotMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer *** Local Caption ***

Carling Nations Cup, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 24/5/2011Republic of Ireland vs Northern IrelandRobbie Keane celebrates scoring Ireland's fourth goal from the penalty spotMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer *** Local Caption ***

©INPHO/Donall Farmer

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24:  Robbie Keane of Ireland scores his first goal during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24: Robbie Keane of Ireland scores his first goal during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Mike Hewitt

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24:  Robbie Keane of Ireland in action during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24: Robbie Keane of Ireland in action during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Mike Hewitt

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24:  Robbie Keane of Ireland in action during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24: Robbie Keane of Ireland in action during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Mike Hewitt

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24:  Robbie Keane of Ireland in action during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24: Robbie Keane of Ireland in action during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Mike Hewitt

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24:  Jonny Gorman of Northern Ireland lines up for the National Anthems prior to the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24: Jonny Gorman of Northern Ireland lines up for the National Anthems prior to the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Mike Hewitt

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24:  Warren Feeney of Northern Ireland lines up for the National Anthems prior to the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24: Warren Feeney of Northern Ireland lines up for the National Anthems prior to the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Mike Hewitt

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24:  Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington looks on during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24: Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington looks on during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Mike Hewitt

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24:  Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni looks on during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24: Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni looks on during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Mike Hewitt

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24:  Keith Treacy of Ireland in action during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24: Keith Treacy of Ireland in action during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Mike Hewitt

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24:  Josh Carson of Northern Ireland in action during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24: Josh Carson of Northern Ireland in action during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Mike Hewitt

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24:  Robbie Keane of Ireland celebrates after scoring during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24: Robbie Keane of Ireland celebrates after scoring during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Mike Hewitt

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24:  Alan Blayney of Northern Ireland in action during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24: Alan Blayney of Northern Ireland in action during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Mike Hewitt

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24:  Alan Blayney of Northern Ireland in action during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24: Alan Blayney of Northern Ireland in action during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Mike Hewitt

24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN. Northern Ireland supporters pictured in the stadium

24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN. Northern Ireland supporters pictured in the stadium

24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN. Northern Ireland fans pictured inside the Aviva stadium

24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN. Northern Ireland fans pictured inside the Aviva stadium

24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN. Northern Ireland fans pictured inside the Aviva stadium

24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN. Northern Ireland fans pictured inside the Aviva stadium

24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN. Republic of Ireland celebrate the opening goal by Stephen Ward

24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN. Republic of Ireland celebrate the opening goal by Stephen Ward

24/5/11 Mandatory Credit Darren Kidd/Presseye.com Carling Nations Cup, Republic of Ireland v Northern Ireland.Northern Ireland fan Charley Emerson (14) fromBelfast

24/5/11 Mandatory Credit Darren Kidd/Presseye.com Carling Nations Cup, Republic of Ireland v Northern Ireland.Northern Ireland fan Charley Emerson (14) fromBelfast

Darren Kidd

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24:  Seamus Coleman of Ireland challenges Lee Hodson of Northern Ireland during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24: Seamus Coleman of Ireland challenges Lee Hodson of Northern Ireland during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Mike Hewitt

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24:  Liam Boyce of Northern Ireland (L) watches the ball as Liam Lawrence of Ireland performs a handstand during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24: Liam Boyce of Northern Ireland (L) watches the ball as Liam Lawrence of Ireland performs a handstand during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Mike Hewitt

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24:  Josh McQuoid of Northern Ireland lines up for the National Anthems prior to the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24: Josh McQuoid of Northern Ireland lines up for the National Anthems prior to the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Mike Hewitt

Steven Davis of Northern Ireland lines up for the National Anthems prior to the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Steven Davis of Northern Ireland lines up for the National Anthems prior to the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Mike Hewitt

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24:  Shay Given of Ireland in action during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24: Shay Given of Ireland in action during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Mike Hewitt

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24:  Robbie Keane of Ireland celebrates after scoring during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24: Robbie Keane of Ireland celebrates after scoring during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Mike Hewitt

Josh Carson of Northern Ireland

Josh Carson of Northern Ireland

Mike Hewitt

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24:  Liam Lawrence of Ireland in action during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24: Liam Lawrence of Ireland in action during the Carling Nations Cup match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on May 24, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Mike Hewitt

24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN. Republic of Ireland supporters get off their bus at the service station which the Northern Ireland supporters were kept in before the match

24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN. Republic of Ireland supporters get off their bus at the service station which the Northern Ireland supporters were kept in before the match

24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN. Garda line the streets as the Northern Ireland coaches enter Dublin

24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN. Garda line the streets as the Northern Ireland coaches enter Dublin

24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN. A Northern Ireland fan shouting at the Republic of Ireland fans in the stadium

24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN. A Northern Ireland fan shouting at the Republic of Ireland fans in the stadium

24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN.Northern Ireland fans pictured before the match

24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN.Northern Ireland fans pictured before the match

24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN. Garda watch on as Northern Ireland supporters are held at a service station outside Dublin before the match

24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN. Garda watch on as Northern Ireland supporters are held at a service station outside Dublin before the match

24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN. Garda line the streets on the road up to Aviva to court the Northern Ireland supporters into the ground

24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN. Garda line the streets on the road up to Aviva to court the Northern Ireland supporters into the ground

24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN. Garda searching Northern Ireland supporters as they get off the bus in Dublin

24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN. Garda searching Northern Ireland supporters as they get off the bus in Dublin

24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN. Garda searching Northern Ireland supporters as they get off the bus in Dublin

24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN. Garda searching Northern Ireland supporters as they get off the bus in Dublin

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24.05.11. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALDNORTHERN IRELAND VS REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AT THE AVIVA STADIUM IN DUBLIN. Northern Ireland fans react to going 1-0 down

In the bowels of the Aviva Stadium shellshocked young Northern Ireland players were wandering around.

Some were on the phone to loved ones, others were climbing aboard the team coach and a few had that vacant look that comes having suffered a right walloping.

The senior players, men like captain Gareth McAuley |(pictured with Robbie Keane), Steve Davis, Warren Feeney and Sammy Clingan walked through the mixed zone answering questions from reporters when the last thing they wanted to do was talk about what had just happened on the pitch.

We should praise the boys for that. Unlike international players from other countries that I’ve covered at least they fronted up after a truly humiliating defeat.

And at least they were there unlike many of their team-mates, who didn’t make the trip to Dublin meaning a patched up side containing several kids, took on the Republic of Ireland, who while nowhere near full strength themselves obviously have a far superior squad to choose from that Nigel Worthington.

McAuley and his mates were honest in their assessment of the 5-0 hammering, admitting they were architects of their own downfall stating that sloppy mistakes led to the Republic’s fistful of goals.

Trying desperately hard to find positives the experienced lads hoped the kids would learn something.

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Going on the theory that the bigger the beating the more you learn, Northern Ireland should have some of the most well educated young footballers on the planet after Tuesday night, because make no mistake about it this was a highly embarrassing, error strewn display.

Northern Ireland were fortunate to get away with 5-0.

Once they went a goal down, heads dropped in Worthington’s side though sadly the mistake count increased.

It was appaling for the 210 Northern Ireland fans in attendance, and those at home watching on TV, to see their fierce rivals ease to such a comfortable victory.

There may not have been Euro 2012 qualifying points at stake, but there was pride. And we left the Aviva with none.

Some of the 210 supporters chanted “Nigel, Nigel, time to go” after the fifth Republic goal hit the net.

Patience is clearly wearing thin with Worthington, whose record of one win in the last 18 matches is dreadful.

Over half of them may have been friendlies and therefore his full team would not have always been available, but on a salary of £500,000 per year (the biggest ever paid out by the IFA to a manager) he needs to deliver much better than that.

Right now Nigel has a worse win percentage than Lawrie McMenemy and he was viewed as one of our worst managers ever.

You could say that our players simply aren’t good enough, but we’ve punched above our weight before and need to be inspired to do so again.

The next outing is against Wales tomorrow night in another Carling Nations Cup match. It’s a non-event.

If the north v south battle was a clash of the B teams, the Friday night extravaganza at the Aviva, which will be watched by a few hundred people, will be a C list affair.

Wales are so bad these days there is a chance our boys will win and that’s even without Davis and Clingan who have withdrawn through injury.

Nigel’s defining period as boss will begin in August at home to the Faroe Islands before more Euro qualifiers against Estonia (twice), Serbia and Italy.

Despite Northern Ireland’s failures in the last two years, they still have a chance of finishing Group C runners-up, earning a play-off.

If that is achieved, by all means offer Worthington a new contract, even if the play-off ends in defeat, but not before as some have ludicrously suggested. If not the Irish FA must consider if they are getting value for all that money.

I’d love to see Nigel deliver, because he’s a good bloke, but good blokes don’t always make great international managers. Look at Sammy McIlroy.

If what happened on the pitch on Tuesday was a nightmare, it was a similar scenario in the stands with such a tiny away support in the Aviva.

The IFA made a right mess of the ticketing and travel arrangements for the trip to Dublin, leading to a boycott from the Northern Ireland fans, who remain furious that the FAI continue to poach players from here, which doesn’t help Worthington.

The FAI further angered Northern Ireland followers on Tuesday by flying the Ulster flag (for the nine counties in the province) rather than the Northern Ireland one, before it was quickly changed.

And some of the Republic fans let themselves down by booing God Save The Queen as the visiting team’s anthem was played.

Last week the Irish people were cheering her.

This time they were jeering.

Old habits die hard...

All in all a depressing night.


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