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Kenny: This is harder to take than last year's cup final defeat

The Dundalk manager believes it will be a challenge to hold onto his current squad for next season.

Kenny after the final whistle.
Kenny after the final whistle.
Image: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

STEPHEN KENNY SAYS he couldn’t have asked for anymore from his players after seeing them narrowly lose out in the FAI Cup final on penalties.

For the second consecutive year, the Lilywhites were just edged out by Cork City, who captured a first league/cup double in the club’s history thanks to a 5-3 shootout victory after the game had ended 1-1.

“It’s a very harsh way to lose,” Kenny said tonight.  “To go all the way in extra-time after scoring and lose on a shootout is obviously disappointing.

“We dominated the second half but we couldn’t make the breakthrough. We did in the end and I’m disappointed with the goal we conceded but that’s the way it goes.

“We had to make two changes through injuries with Brian Gartland and Patrick McEleney coming off. We probably had one or two others who were running on empty that we might have substituted to give us fresh impetus but we weren’t able to do that.

Everyone gave it 100% really and they will be disappointed now, which is only natural. The players gave it everything and I can’t ask for anymore.”

12 months ago, it was Sean Maguire’s extra-time goal that proved the difference but this latest setback has left Kenny even more frustrated as the Lilywhites now have to settle for an EA Sports Cup win and runners-up in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division as 2017′s achievements.

“Yeah it is, but listen that’s the nature of football,” he replied, when asked if this year’s defeat is harder to take than 2016.

“We’ve been dominant for three years — won three league titles, second this year, won the league cup and lost in a penalty shootout. Those are the fine margins.”

Niclas Vemmelund celebrates his goal Niclas Vemmelund has played his last game for Dundalk, it seems. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Having seen key players depart at the end of every year, Kenny’s next task will be to keep hold of as much of this group as possible. He appears resigned to losing tonight’s goalscorer Niclas Vemmelund, however, as the Danish defender has his heart set on exiting after just one season with Dundalk.

“If we can keep this team together we’ll be very strong next season,” Kenny added. “That will be a challenge in itself.

“I don’t know if he [Vemmelund] has signed for anyone yet but he has indicated that he is going.”

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Ben Blake

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