“Friday night was tinged with disappointment. We had done ever so well, and you always go into a final hoping that the boys are going to deliver. But B Italia were very good, and they were very good from the first minute and just didn’t let us settle. They played the game very well while we struggled for long periods. I don’t think we performed to our best, but to give credit to them, they didn’t let us perform either.
“It was the end of the week and we had four games were we were flat to the mat. B Italia on the other hand had been winning games 5-0 and a 3-0 and perhaps had been able to rest players and alternate a bit better than we have. We had the same eleven starting on Monday night and Thursday night and we were asking that same team to do a huge job in the final too. Perhaps I could have used the squad a bit more, but that’ll be for others to debate.”
How good was this year’s Premier squad?
“This year’s squad is probably the best I’ve had and I’ve seen some good players play for us. If there’s one disappointment from the week, it’s that I know how good they are and I know they have it in them to play better that the final showed. Perhaps that’s high expectations, but our guys can really play. There are six to eight players in that team who are really good.
“I said it from the outset, at our parents night, that this is the best squad I could have assembled. I said we’d do well, which sometimes doesn’t happen because of the draw or something else. But the boys have come through some tough games during the week and I think when we reflect on it, we should all be very proud of what we achieved. The kids will have learned how to prepare for situations like this in the future, because asking kids to play five games in five days is a massive ask.
Backed up by a great team:
“I always say that a manager is only as good as his players, and his coaches and while I’m the one out barking orders, I’m always backed up by a good squad of people. Davy and Peter and Carter have been superb, right through the training process everything I’ve needed has been done. They make my life and my job easy.
“Nigel the physio deserves a massive thanks as he’s had to run after both juniors and premiers all week and with that massive ask, he’s done a fantastic job for us. John Wilton is probably one of the most professional kitmen I’ve ever worked with. He was at Ards when I played there and nothing has changed about how professional he is and it was good to see him taking on [goalkeeper coach] Carter as his apprentice during the week!”