Brian Kerr had seen this coming from miles away, we just weren't ready to hear it
"This is the fault of a lack of a proper player development structure and coaching structure in Ireland for many years."
We wanted to believe that the Serbia performance was a good one against a good team. We wanted to believe that while disappointing, the 3-2 loss had enough positive signs to signs to suggest it was a foundation, and something we could build on for the future. We wanted to believe that things were going in the right direction for Irish football.
Maybe we were just clutching at straws.
If it was a stepping stone our foundation was looking for, then a home game against the 98th ranked team in the world presented the ideal opportunity for Stephen Kenny's new era step up. Sure, Luxembourg would work hard, none of these international wins come easy, but our superior quality would shine through and after all that, Irish football might just begin its rise into a new, exciting tomorrowland.
Little did we know that we were in for one of our worst nights in living memory.
As we take stock now, the morning after a 1-0 defeat to Luxembourg, you can't escape the sense that we've been codding ourselves all along, that the players who we believe to be good aren't really that good after all. It has entered your mind that being a lowly Premier League player or a Championship player - the bracket of player the Irish team is made up of - doesn't actually make you that good of a player at all.
It doesn't end there. You wonder what is actually wrong with Irish football because watching the team play, without any hope or confidence and in the manner they have for the most part of the last five years, never far away is this helpless, sickening feeling that things are about to go horribly wrong once again. This feeling that somebody like Luxembourg are going to beat us.
Maybe we had an incline something like this was coming, but in all the excitement that came with a new manager and a new style, just didn't want to admit it to ourselves.
"Tonight isn't just about Stephen's faults, or the team's faults. This has been coming for a good while.
"This is the fault of a lack of a proper player development structure and coaching structure in Ireland."
Brian Kerr on Irish football.#COYBIG #IRLLUX #WCQ pic.twitter.com/plFwZRugR2
— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) March 27, 2021
Brian Kerr has been around long enough to know. Those eyes have seen living and they don't trick him too often.
When the Crumlin man was cranky after the Serbia game we got up on our high horse and told him to rein it in. In reality, it was us who needed to be reined in because in the coaching structures of Irish football, in the youth teams and all the way up to the boardrooms, Kerr could see that we have long been setting ourselves up to fail.
That man had the home truths on Wednesday night, we just weren't ready to hear them. By Saturday, we were all ears.
"Tonight isn’t just down to Stephen’s faults or the team’s faults," Kerr said after our dispiriting loss to Luxembourg.
"This has been coming for a good while."
"This is the fault of a lack of proper player development structure and coaching structure in Ireland for many years. There has been a dearth of talent coming through from the teams," he said damningly.
"Suddenly, Stephen is pouring players through to the senior team from the U21s that were successful for him for about a year who aren’t ready. But there was no real quality or depth to that, that has been proven."
"And the people who are in charge of that development should seriously be looking at themselves tonight, rather than just criticising the manager."
"We know how the FAI has been run for years and years, but there’s also been other people in charge of player development and the structures in charge of those players. It’s been sticking out for a long time. It’s been sticking out tonight."
All things considered, it's a long way back. It's not Stephen Kenny, not Martin O'Neill's or Mick McCarthy's fault either. The FAI haven't been good enough and the standard of player consequently is not good enough.
We won't be codding ourselves again any time soon.