JAMES McClean says he's deeply hurt and has hit back at Republic of Ireland's critics for 'over the top' comments in the aftermath of last night's World Cup play-off defeat to Denmark.
The Creggan man, who had been Ireland's stand-out performer during an impressive qualifying campaign, was 'lost for words' after Ireland's World Cup hopes were shatteredat the Aviva Stadium.
However, after reflecting on the game and the after match reaction, the winger admitted Ireland were 'simply not good enough' on the night.
And he vented his disappointment at critics who have 'stuck the boot' into players and staff who 'would give anything for this great country!'
"Last night is going to hurt deep for a long long time, nothing can change or make what happened last night," he said.
"Right, of course everyone is entitled to voice their opinion because it was simply not good enough from us on the night. We know that ourselves, but to stick the boot in and kick players and staff when they are down - players and staff have been great servants to this country - players and staff that have qualified for a major tournament and were unlucky to be knocked out to a great team in the last 16.
"Players and staff that were one game from making it to a World Cup. Players and staff that would give anything for this great country!
"With some over the top beyond football comments are bang out of order, hurting or not and, trust me when a say this, we hurt every bit as much as you do.
"I am proud and honoured to be an Irish man and to call everyone of these men fellow country men and team mates!
"Like I said, this will hurt deep, we have been written us so many times before an just like before we will bounce back!"