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U19s: “Outstanding Victory for This Club” – Connolly

November 8, 2018

Dundalk FC U19 manager and Youth Development Officer Martin Connolly says that his side’s success over Shamrock Rovers in the Enda McGuill Memorial Cup quarter-finals at the weekend was an “outstanding victory for this club”.

The young Lilywhites have enjoyed a fine season in FAI National U19 League Northern Division and are sitting just behind Finn Harps with four games to go.

But they were faced with their toughest task yet on Sunday when they took on Rovers, who are currently chasing Cork City in the Elite Division, at Sacred Heart’s ground in Tallaght.

Dundalk came through in fantastic style as Chris Reilly’s magnificent strike in the dying seconds of extra-time saw them clinch a semi-final spot against Bohemians, after Bob McKenna’s two penalties in normal time had been cancelled out.

That goal ended Rovers’ nine-match unbeaten run while extending Dundalk’s to seven games, with Connolly and assistant manager Mick Neville unable to contain themselves at the final whistle.

“It was a massive win,” Connolly told dundalkfc.com.

“Bearing in mind we’re working off a squad of 18 or 19 players, and we had to request to get the Youths team game off on Sunday to enable us to have a full squad.

“From the previous week, Glen Trainor and Garreth Brady were injured. We had Peter Thomas back and Kevin Loughran started, having played his first full game for the Youths the week before.

“Apart from that, Shamrock Rovers are without doubt the biggest club in this country, and it’s no different when you go down to U19 level. They have the pick of the majority of players in Dublin.

“We have put together a team in a couple of months, and it’s an absolutely outstanding victory for this club.

“You’re playing Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght, it’s a cup match and they’re the red-hot favourites. You know that you’re going to be up against it and you know that you’re going to have to soak up pressure at stages.

“You’ve converted two penalties and then they get a penalty. There were 20 minutes left in normal time and you know that it’s going to be backs-to-the-wall stuff.

“But the boys responded outstandingly.

“Craig Hanlon, who has made a few errors during the season but has been brilliant for the last couple of weeks, really stood up to the test. Peter Thomas made his first-team debut last week and he was at a different level on Sunday as a centre-half.

“I could talk all day about all the boys – they really stood up to the test.

“Anyone who was at the game that seen the camaraderie and the bonding between the players – some who only met each other six months ago – would say these guys really want to play for Dundalk Football Club.”

Full story here.

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