The short-term sting of Friday’s cup final frustration remains balanced out for Annagh manager Dean Smith by lasting pride in his players’ overall progress.
Injuries left Annagh with reduced numbers and the absence of experienced players entering the Boxing Day showpiece.
Smith highlights those setbacks as central to Annagh’s disappointment against a Loughgall side with second-tier Irish League experience and a proud tradition in the competition.
The final presented NIFL Championship Two-based Annagh with an opportunity to take the next stage in the squad’s development.
“We didn’t perform as well as we can and a number of factors came into play,” said Smith. “However, ultimately, I am proud of the players and the final will go down as another important part of the group’s learning process.
“Injuries left us without some players and the pitch conditions did not help.
“The players put everything into the second half.
“We were delighted to get a first-half equaliser as Loughgall had been moving the ball so well.
“We then had a wonderful opportunity to make it 2-2 but the goalkeeper made an excellent save.
“It is now done and dusted.”
Annagh host Coagh United tomorrow (Saturday) in a league match that will place the Smith brothers in opposite dugouts.
“Andy and I will approach the match in a professional manner,” said Smith. “The priority is to get our league form back on track.”
Kick-off will be 3 o’clock.
ANNAGH UNITED: Ciaran Fox, Jordan Bell, Nathan Riddle, Jordan Campbell, Richard Allen, Philip Craig, Francis McCann, Steven Park, Shea Campbell, Scott McCordick, Jaime Gardiner. Subs: Paul Stretton (on for McCann, 89 mins), Shea Skelton, Adam Nesbitt (on for Riddle, 78 mins), Raymond Harpur (on for J.Campbell, 46 mins), Ryan Coulter.