"They were running on empty really" - Stephen Kenny laments FAI Cup final loss
Dundalk now look ahead to their crunch Europa League clash with AZ Alkmaar in two weeks' time10:46 Monday 7 November 2016, 10:46 7 Nov 2016
Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny accepts his players faced an uphill task during Sunday's FAI Cup final defeat to Cork City at the Aviva Stadium.
Coming off the back of an away defeat to Russian side Zenit St Petersburg, the reigning Premier Division champions had just small window of time to prepare for the game and were not helped by the fact that they were forced to play 120 minutes of football.
"It was disappointing to lose it," he said after the game. "I thought the players were magnificent after a gruelling game in Russia. We were very unfortunate to lose overall. That's the way it goes.
"They were running on empty really. Getting back on Friday from St Petersburg and going again. We played 120 minutes and we were in control in extra time. We had a couple of great chances and even looked like we were going to score.
"To concede right at the death is a cruel way to lose. That's the way it goes you have to accept your defeat."
Sits on the pitch after defeat to Cork City in the FAI Cup final. Image: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer
Kenny lamented the defeat and acknowledged that his side had chances to win the game within 90 minutes.
"Bar a spell in the second half, I thought we controlled the game. There was a spell in the second half for about 15 minutes when Cork got on top and created about three good chances.
"It was an end to end game and it could have went either way but we didn't have that gear that we needed. Our keys players [Patrick] McEleney and [Daryl] Horgan were very tired come extra time. They still did well and gave everything."
Preparation now switches to Dundalk's home clash with AZ Alkmaar in the group stages of the Europa League, with captain Stephen O'Donnell and Dane Massey both doubtful after suffering calf injuries during the game.
"That's what happens when all the games are in close proximity. We had it last week losing Robbie Benson. He was a huge loss to us over the two games. That's just the way it goes."
The PFAI Manager of the Year cited their domestic campaign as their primary target which they achieved last month with a victory over Bohemians and now look to make further history in Europe.
"We're league champions and that was our main objective this year. To win three in-a-row is unprecedented for Dundalk. To qualify for the group stage of the Europa League is something we really strived to do.
"The FAI Cup was then the next objective. We wanted to win it but sometimes in life you can't do everything."
The very best bits delivered every weekSubscribe now