A thrilled Alan Browne credited the hard work of his side over the course of the past 10 months, culminating in Sunday’s Leinster Youth Cup victory over Cherry Orchard.
Their penalty shootout win against the Dublin side in the capital brought the trophy back to Oriel Park for the first time since the ‘80s, so it was none too soon for the club.
“It is a great win, we have worked so hard to get here and it has been a long time coming for the club to win a final like this,” he smiled afterwards. “To come away winners of a great trophy is a credit to everyone involved.
“This is important for everyone at the club. It has been a long season from when we started on the first weekend in September last year. Weplayed our first game in this competition in October so it is a long season.
“We have beaten some of the best and highest regarded teams in the competition on the way here: Belvedere, St Joseph’s, Shamrock Rovers, St Kevin’s and then Cherry Orchard in the final so it’s a massive compliment to all the boys, the coaching staff and everyone because we are all in it together.”
Those aforementioned sides are among some of the best in terms of schoolboy football and Browne believes that consistently being branded underdogs each time Dundalk wouldcome up against them played out to his advantage.
“When we have played all of these teams, we have gone into it being considered as outsiders and that probably went in our favour a bit because we always believed in our performances,” he continued.
“We have been playing well and never had any doubt we could go far so to come away with the trophy is hard to put into words almost - we are just over the moon.
“The game could have went either way,” added the manager. “I thought we were on top for large parts and when it goes to extra time, then fitness comes into it but we finished it well and in the shootout we were confident.
“We all know what Fergal can do from spot kicks and he showed it. He has been on a good run of form and when you have two ‘keepers involved it can be hard to keep them happy but we have done our best and tried to involve everyone in the squad throughout the season so to finish it off with the win is incredible.”
Development of talent at the Carrick Road venue has always taken precedence over filling the trophy cabinet but Browne admitted that having reached the final, only victory was on their minds.
“This is absolutely a big win. When you go far in a competition of this calibre, you want to win it, no doubt about it. We are all for youth development but when you reach this stage, you want to win and it is great for the lads after the effort they have shown all year round and everyone at this club is extremely proud of them.”