Dundalk defender Niclas Vemmelund dejected at full-time. (Pic: Ciarán Culligan)
It was a far from a fitting send-off, but Niclas Vemmelund marked his final game for Dundalk by scoring the opening goal in Sunday’s Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup final defeat to Cork City at the Aviva Stadium.
He rose highest to head Michael Duffy’s right-wing free-kick to the top-corner, establishing a lead for Dundalk in the first-half of extra-time, only for the Leesiders to peg The Lilywhites back before prevailing on penalties.
The Dane sat crestfallen on the turf as Cork celebrated their triumph and he admits it will be tough to leave his team mates after this disappointment.
“It’s tough to talk,” a distraught Vemmelund told the Dundalk Democrat.
“It was a bit emotional, especially after the game. Whenever you get trust and game time, you play better and I got that here with Stephen. I’ve played well before, but this was probably my best year in football.
“I like all the lads here and it’s going to be tough to say goodbye to them. I just hope that we can keep in contact,” he added.
On his goal, it’s one of his career highlights, though the result takes away from the personal satisfaction.
“It’s no surprise that I felt pretty good after the goal. I thought it was going to be the winner, I didn’t think they were going to score because we felt quite composed and that’s the hardest part, letting them score an equaliser.
“Of course, it’s a big game and my last game (with Dundalk), but when you don’t win it, the day goes a bit down on the list (of career highlights).
“For the goal, Mickey (Duffy) is always good with the deliveries and I just needed to be in the right place at the right time to head it in, that’s what I did.”
The 25-year-old grew into proceedings as the match wore on. In Brian Gartland’s absence he began to call the shots along the back and, on reflection, he feels the defence were too far advanced.
“I knew they were going to hit some long balls, that’s what they do and they’re good at it. I don’t know what went wrong because we were quite deep and we tried to play them offside.
“I thought we kept a higher line than we probably should have. We needed to stay together and probably the 10 or 15-minutes after we scored the goal, they’re the most important and they scored within 15-minutes. It couldn’t be any worse,” said Vemmelund.