Lucan United boss John Doyle lauded the performance of his side after they fell to a 3-1 defeat to League of Ireland side Shamrock Rovers in the fourth annual Molly O’Toole Memorial Cup.
The west Dublin sides play each January in a benefit game dedicated to former Lucan player Molly, who tragically died following a short illness in January 2015.
There were a host of present and former internationals on show as Jack Byrne, Graham Burke, Roberto Lopes, Alan Mannus and Daniel Lafferty lined out for the Hoops.
Former Rovers striker Dave Mooney, who had a long career in England with Reading and Leyton Orient, missed out for Lucan due to injury but the Leinster Senior League side accounted well for themselves.
Lucan took the lead early on thanks to a counter-attacking goal finished by ex-Bohemians striker Marco Chindea, but Rovers bit back with goals from Dean Williams, Burke and Gary O’Neill.
O’Neill, who scored the winning penalty as Rovers lifted the FAI Cup over Dundalk in November, sealed the win early in the second half before the game finished early due to adverse weather.
And Doyle, whose club will enter a team into the 2020 Under-17 Women’s National League in partnership with Rovers, was delighted by his team’s performance.
“We knew they’d have a lot of the ball and we spoke about that,” Doyle told Dublin Gazette.
“Normally we’d have a lot of the ball in our matches so it was different than what’s normal for us. But we had a good shape about us.
“They went through their transitions, bopping the ball around, but we had a good shape. We got a goal on the break and we had plenty of attacks in the match.
“The conditions took over in the end because the pitch was getting stickier. But they were at full-strength. I’m not sure they could have put a better team out unless they had a 12th man.”
Lucan sit second in Sunday Senior 1, the second tier of the Leinster Senior League, and are well in the hunt for promotion to the top level.
25-year-old Chindea is among the more experienced players in a young team featuring promising talents like Bobby Mazono, Tayem Dinamunenge and Harmony Mercer.
Dylan Connolly and Shane Stokes have signed from the League of Ireland Under-19s while Tommy Illunga, who scored in Maynooth’s FAI Intermediate Cup win over Firhouse Clover, has also arrived.
They’ll all be needed in the run-in as Lucan face fierce competition from Kilnamanagh, Home Farm and Sacred Heart Firhouse Clover for the three promotion spots.
“There’s an issue at the moment in the League of Ireland that the jump up from the Under-19s to the first team is probably too big, and the Leinster Senior League is getting the benefit of that.
“You’re not quite ready for League of Ireland, and I have one or two who, with the experience of the Leinster Senior League, might progress back to the League of Ireland at some stage.
“Right now it’s looking like four teams are fighting it out, unless one of us drops off dramatically. It’s going to be a tough run-in. Like last year it might be about the games against the teams around us.”