Padraig Harrington confessed he found it hard to take Thierry Henry's celebration of the handball goal that dumped Ireland out of next summer's soccer World Cup.

Henry with Roger Federer and Tiger WoodsThe Dubliner discovered Ireland's fate when he got up on Thursday morning in Dubai and learned how they were controversially eliminated by France in Paris with Thierry Henry setting up the crucial goal by blatantly handling the ball. Ireland lost 2-1 on aggregate after extra time.

Asked about the incident that has become a national talking point, Harrington laughed at first and said: "Surely I am not going to have to comment on that."

Pressed to give his opinion as one of the leading players in a sport that largely polices itself, Harrington said: "The celebration of the cheating was particularly galling and that is as far as it goes.

"It is strange. Obviously golf has a different attitude. If somebody makes a mistake - okay they may be trained not to do it - I would put putting your hand out as a reaction and a mistake.

“The great thing in golf is that if we do something wrong, we hold our hand up and say, 'Hold on a second, I didn't meant to do that. Sorry.' 

“And you go back and you take your penalty. It would be perfectly reasonable, obviously not in their case, to do that.

“But the celebration, that was pretty hard to look at. Everybody makes a mistake and I wouldn't hold it against them, but to act like it never happened....”

Golfers regularly call penalties on themselves with Harrington famously doing it in the 2000 US Open at Pebble Beach when his ball moved in a bunker.

Fellow pro Ian Poulter confessed that he was disappointed with former Arsenal star Henry, he handled the ball in setting up the extra time goal that sent France through to next summer’s World Cup finals in South Africa.

Writing on Twitter, Poulter said: “There is no excuse for henry to do what he did, as a Arsenal fan I can’t believe he could cheat like that, very disappointing to see.”