Shane Ross was speaking after Ireland lost 2-1 to France in Lyon
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross has congratulated the Republic of Ireland team on their performance at Euro 2016.
Martin O'Neill's side were knocked out in the Second Round by hosts France in Lyon. Despite opening the scoring, Ireland conceded twice in the second half to lose 2-1.
"This is a fantastic story", Minister Ross told Newstalk from Lyon. "This is a great adventure and they have done Ireland so much good abroad."
"It was a great game", he added. "We got incredibly excited when we got the penalty in the first few minutes. It was not to be."
Despite the defeat, Minister Ross feels the performance of the team and fans in France, will do wonders for Ireland's reputation. "It's a story of an Irish team and Irish fans combining to carry a message that Ireland is a player in the World, that we're great sports, great players and great people."
"Everybody here is slightly disappointed but so proud of the role that they have played in taking the Irish message abroad. It's a great day despite the result."
"I dont think you can measure the good will that the fans have actually spread across Europe by their behaviour during this tournament."
Minister Ross also revealed that he expects the team to be honoured on Monday when they return from France. "I've no doubt whatsoever that there will be a fitting heroes' welcome in Dublin and further afield tomorrow. They deserve it because the whole nation is behind them."
The team are expected to return to Dublin at around 6pm on Monday evening.