Dundalk striker Patrick Hoban believes there were plenty of positives to take from his side’s display despite their exit from the Europa League against Slovan Bratislava on Tuesday.
A 3-1 defeat at Tallaght Stadium was a harsh scoreline on Vinny Perth’s side overall as their European journey came to an end at Tallaght Stadium.
Nevertheless, Hoban – who missed a penalty with 16 minutes remaining – said Dundalk could be proud of their display and backed his side to kick on domestically in the wake of the setback.
He said: “There are so many positives to take out of that game. Everyone is really disappointed because this is a game we felt like we should be winning. Especially before the game, we felt like we could go through here and that’s the way every Irish team should be.
“We believe that we should be going through and believe that you should be there at the highest level but we just got done on the counter-attack and a few mistakes and that’s what happens too at the highest level. If you are not 100% concentrated you get punished.
“I honestly believe that was our best performance this season, especially in the last couple of months. I think we created a lot of chances. We played on the front foot. We played more of the Dundalk way and I’m sure you might even have enjoyed watching, not the scoreline but the score doesn’t reflect how we played but on other days those chances go in and it would be a totally different story and to be honest I’m proud of the players.”
Two goals on 12 and 33 minutes for Slovan meant that Dundalk would have needed four to advance and Hoban admitted the early concessions were a killer blow to his side’s hopes.
“It just came at the wrong time and the manner in which we conceded the first one, it was unlike us in a way but we just have to take it on the chin but like I say I am proud of the boys because we just keep going to the bitter end and we never stopped.
“If my penalty goes in it’s 2-2 and to be honest, they were gone. You could feel that out there that they were gone and we just kept pushing for more goals and more goals which left us open obviously for the third.
“All I can say is that I am very proud of the boys there is a lot of positives to take from that performance and now we have to go on and win a league and cup.”
Hoban praised the display of Slovan goalkeeper Dominik Greif, who as well as saving his spot kick also made several top saves over the two legs.
“He has pulled off some great saves, John’s header, Boylers header, Micky’s shot and he pulled off a decent save from my header.
“For the penalty I done a lot of work on penalties. I do a lot of video analysis myself and on the opponent’s goalkeeper every time I play. I must have looked at about nine penalties and I knew he was diving early I just didn’t know what side he was going. I just didn’t lift it high enough and that’s the way it goes. I was very disappointed because I knew he was diving somewhere but that’s just the way it is.”
Hoban said his side would look to pick themselves up now to push for silverware domestically.
“The feeling right now in the camp is that everyone is bitterly disappointed that we didn’t get through to the next round because that’s where we believe we should be and that’s the standard we have set as a group.
“As a whole squad as a whole staff we set standards, we are disappointed we didn’t achieve the goal we set out for but everyone knows we have to be positive because that was a very positive performance.
“I honestly can’t remember the last time we played like that. I’m being deadly serious we created so many chances and it’s better for me obviously when the lads are playing like that, we were higher up the pitch and we were making it very difficult for the opponents.
“I think there is a lot of positives. We have a league to win, cups to win and I’m sure as long as we stick together we can do that,” he said.