Gary O'Neill reflected on a "brilliant" footballing experience against AC Milan and felt Shamrock Rovers acquitted themselves well in the 2-0 Europa League qualifier defeat.
Goals in either half from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the highly influential Hakan Çalhanoglu at Tallaght Stadium scuppered any thoughts of a potential upset as the Italians marched into the third round qualifiers.
Stephen Bradley’s men enjoyed just 35% possession on the night but did create three good goalscoring opportunities on the break, with Aaron Greene going closest for the home side.
O’Neill was busy throughout in front of the defence and was pleased with how the Airtricity League leaders performed against the Italians.
"It was brilliant. All week we had done our homework like with any team we would have done domestically," the 25-year-old told RTÉ Sport.
"Two bits of brilliance won the game for them, but we’re very proud of what we showed tonight. I’m sure we gave a good account of ourselves.
"Two bits of brilliance won the game, but we're very proud of what we showed tonight"— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) September 17, 2020
Gary O'Neill @ShamrockRovers spoke to @Corktod after tonight's Europa League qualifier at Tallaght #RTESoccer pic.twitter.com/WwlkT79CbX
"We had three great chances. Maybe if the first goes in, it’s a different game. I’m sure they will be there, or thereabouts for the Europa League this year. They are top players and elite athletes."
O’Neill saw up close the influence man-of-the-match Çalhanoglu exerted on the game. The 48-cap Turkish international set up Ibrahimovic for the opener before doubling their advantage after the break and was at the heart of Milan’s attacking display.
"He’s brilliant. In my position, in front of the back three, he was the one hovering around me all night. You see the level of his football, he’s so much better than what you’d usually face domestically.
"I’m happy to have got his shirt tonight."