"We can only learn from this experience" - Stephen Kenny praises "magnificent" Dundalk performance in Warsaw

Speaking to TV3 after the game, he praised his players and expressed disappointment they couldn't capitalise on their numerical advantage

BY Cian Roche 22:25 Tuesday 23 August 2016, 22:25 23 Aug 2016

Image: ©INPHO/FotoOlimpik/Tomasz Jastrzebowski 

Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny described his players as "magnificent" and expressed his disappointment at the fact that they failed to qualify for the Champions League in Poland this evening.

The Lilywhites were beaten 3-1 on aggregate, but drew 1-1 on the night with Polish champions Legia Warsaw. The Premier Division champions led for more than an hour and held a numerical advantage for just about half of that time. 

Speaking after the game he pointed out the efforts of the players despite the fact that very few people gave them any hope of progressing to the group stages.

"I think the game was in the balance right until the very end," he told TV3. "Nobody gave us absolutely any hope coming out here. 

"Very harsh penalty, actually it wasn't a penalty that we conceded at the Aviva Stadium. To lose the way we did last week probably wasn't deserved. But in the last 20 minutes tonight we probably didn't create enough. 

"I thought we were absolutely magnificent the way all the players wanted the ball under pressure. Received it, passed it well under pressure particularly in the first half.

"Second half when they went down to ten we tried to stretch them with our wingers. They defended well and the intensity of their game was so great that it took its toll a little bit and we made a few mistakes.

"Overall, I have to commend my players, they've been nothing short of magnificent in this Champions League run. You know, the games we've had have been against very, very high opposition. 

"We can only learn from this experience. We've qualified for the Europa League which was beyond our wildest dreams really, a few seasons ago. But we're disappointed we didn't qualify for the Champions League because that was certainly our ambition coming into these two games." 

Robbie Benson almost added a second in the second half which would have brought the game to extra time. Image: ©INPHO/FotoOlimpik/Tomasz Jastrzebowski 

Asked whether or not he thought his side had the better of the overall play he replied: "I don't think we dominated, I think possession was pretty even.  We caused them problems with Daryl Horgan and Patrick McEleney pooping up in central areas, as well as Robbie Benson and Ronan Finn breaking from midfield. 

"Maybe they got to grips with it at half time and pressed us high. They got tighter to us in those areas and made it more difficult for us to play it out from the back.

"We had a couple of half chances, we had a lot of set plays and we put a lot of pressure on them but they defended well.

"Losing Ciaran Kilduff and Stephen O'Donnell, that's two players of a squad who would have made a big impact. But I can't fault any of the players that played. They were absolutely terrific." 

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