VIDEO: Maiden City pride despite Irish Cup defeat
MAIDEN City went out of the Irish Cup fighting at the fifth round stage for the second successive season and manager, Colm Cassidy believes his players can be proud of their efforts.
However, Cassidy was bitterly disappointed to miss out on a plush sixth round tie against the cup holders Coleraine at the Showgrounds - Dergview's prize for grinding out a victory against the Intermediate League outfit on their own patch at Darragh Park - given they had led the match in the second half.
It's been a fantastic journey so far for Maiden City's senior side who are just three years in existence and there was certainly no shame in losing to a team which sits two divisions above them, albeit Dergview are struggling at the foot of the Bluefin Sport Championship.
It was a journey which started as far back as August with an emphatic 9-2 victory on the road over amateur league side, Malachians FC and ended on a cold January afternoon in Co. Tyrone on Saturday.
Having got to the same stage of the competition last year where they lost at the hands of current Dankse Bank Premiership champions, Crusaders at Seaview, Cassidy and his troops felt they had a decent opportunity to go a step further this year when they were paired with former Northern Ireland international winger, Ivan Sproule's struggling Dergview outfit.
But injuries and suspensions put a huge dent on their aspirations of prolonging their Cup campaign and ultimately their lack of experience told in the end as Dergview fought back to clinch a narrow win.
It was another learning curve for this talented young side who already have the North West Craig Memorial Cup title in the bag from St Stephen's Day and Cassidy believes their Irish Cup experience will stand them in good stead for the remainder of their league campaign.
"I can't fault the players," said Cassidy afterwards. "To go in at half-time at 1-1 against a team two divisions above you and you have a go at them - it says a lot about the standards we're setting at the club.
"The match came at a bad time for us in terms of suspensions and injuries. Six of our first team were missing but it is what it is and we got on with it.
"We have some good young players who have done themselves a lot of justice here especially second half.
"I told the boys before the match; 'We're not going to win the Irish Cup but we'll give it our best shot in terms of getting as far as we can especially for the club.
"Last year our Cup run put us on the map. You have to remember it's only our third season and we've got to the fifth round of the Irish Cup two years on the bounce. We've already got one trophy in the bag this year and won two last year and it's only hopefully going to kick on our season now.
"I'm disappointed and gutted for the boys but, ah well, we'll move on from it."