Dundalk U19's narrowly missed out on the Enda McGuill Memorial Cup as they went down 3-2 to Cork City U19's. Speaking after the match, Martin Connolly was disappointed with the result but was incredibly proud of his side's performance.
"Disappointed with the result of the football match but tremendous pride in the group. We went into the game severe underdogs and I think we put it up to Cork in a lot of ways. I think we were the better team for large periods of the second half and were done by a sucker punch but that happens."
Connolly admitted that the excellent performance of his young Lilywhites side softened the blow of defeat,
"I think the performance definitely softens the defeat a bit. We were better for large periods of the game. We were probably fortunate enough to get the equaliser before half-time but I think in the second half we were really good.
"I think we were unfortunate not to get that lead and have something to hold on to and then we had that chance in the last minute. Sometimes they go in and sometimes they don't, tonight it didn't but the performance does soften it (the defeat) a wee bit."
Overall the Dundalk boss was happy with the Cup run itself and is particularly pleased with how the games have panned out.
"Ah I am delighted. We've beaten Shamrock Rovers away. We've beaten Bohemians away and we have just taken the title winners the whole way. I am very happy with that.
"Plus five or six of the boys have played or been involved with the first-team and that is the big picture so I am happy with that."
The Dundalk native is confident that a lot of his players can definitely make the step up to the first-team but knows some have a bit more developing to do.
"The plan is for them all to transfer over to the first-team. That won't happen. Generally they don't go into the team on mass but definitely a lot of these players will be first-team players here and maybe even further afield.
"Look at Ben McLaughlin, already a regular, and he has another two years at this level. Conor McDonald has another two years at this level, Garreth Brady another year at this level. They all have some developing to do but I think they can do it."
Looking to the future, Connolly conceded he doesn't know what will happen with the uncertainty surrounding the club at the moment but is hopeful the players will be able to continue their progress.
"I don't really know what's going to happen. You know as well as me what is happening around the club at the moment.I would hope that we can develop these players further and let them progress but that's a question for another day.
"Let's just look enjoy the performance of tonight and be disappointed we didn't win the cup."