Stephen Kenny looks back on a historic 2016 for Dundalk FC
The Dundalk manager was speaking to Newstalk Breakfast09:49 Wednesday 28 December 2016, 9:49 28 Dec 2016
Dundalk's 2016 season will go down in the annals of Irish domestic football.
Stephen Kenny's side won their third league title in a row, reached the final of the FAI Cup and became the first Irish team to earn a point in the group stages of a European competition. The Louth side picked up a win and a draw in the Europa League, surpassing all expectations.
The 2016 Manager of the Year spoke to Newstalk Breakfast's Shane Coleman about the campaign, and how the team will look to improve next year, despite the loss of numerous players including midfielders Daryl Horgan and Ronan Finn.
"Qualifying for the Europa League, was a lifetime's ambition for a lot of the players, and it was terrific to do that", Kenny revealed.
Dundalk's manager could not pinpoint one highlight of the year, but he thought the 3-0 win over BATE Borisov was the team's best win of the campaign.
"They had been in the Champions League five times in the group stages... For us to go and win 3-0 was a shock result around Europe... It confirmed our place in the group stages [of at least the Europa League]. It was a euphoric night."
Despite the record-beating campaign, Kenny admitted his frustrations at how the Europa League campaign concluded. He cited a Dane Massey header against Zenit, which would have given the side a 2-0 lead with less than 20 minutes to go. The shot hit the post, and Dundalk would end up losing 2-1.
"We have to accept that overall we probably didn't do enough to get through the group stages, in the last couple of matches."
Kenny admitted that the 2017 season will be "a big challenge" for the team, as Dundalk look for their fourth title in a row. "We've lost some of our best players... We have to rebuild. We started with nothing, It didn't phase us then."
The very best bits delivered every weekSubscribe now