Dundalk U19 manager Martin Connolly rued a “dubious” late penalty kick that dumped his side out of the Enda McGuill Cup but acknowledged that his side’s performance was not good enough on the night.
A Craig Pentony goal had given the Lilywhites the lead at Oriel Park against their near neighbours Drogheda United but they fell to two late strikes at the first round stage and it is now the Drogs who contest the next round when they take on Mervue United.
“It was a soft penalty to give [from the referee], especially in the last minute of the game”, said Connolly.
“I don’t know whether it was a push although it was poor defending from our point of view when our defender got the wrong side of him but I don’t know that he actually pushed him or not,” he said afterwards.
“We could possibly have had one ourselves too but mostly I’m really disappointed with our performance.
“After playing well against Derry we didn’t show up tonight really and I don’t think Drogheda were an awful lot better than us but they have won the game with a dubious last minute penalty and with the game that it was, the ending probably fitted it.”
Dundalk actually hit the front with just over 15 minutes left on the clock but conceded an equaliser almost immediately afterwards before that penalty put paid to their Cup hopes and the nature of the first goal was also a sore on to take for Connolly.
He continued: “We got ourselves in front and then it was poor play again from our point of view as we were most vulnerable just after taking the lead.
“We didn’t defend it properly when they won the ball back from our throw in the corner and then we didn’t press the man with the ball and he took the shot on and scored so it is really poor play from our point of view but all credit to Drogheda and good luck to them in the next round.”
The Dundalk boss insisted that success in the league was always going to be the focus for his side and once more stated that competing in the Elite Division is the only way to improve.
“The league always has been and will be our focus,” Connolly continued. “We know as a group and a club we have to be better than that to progress but what we have to do is play in the Elite Division and play better teams every week. That has always been our aim.”