Stephen Kenny backs Dundalk to grow from Europa League experience
Manager Stephen Kenny believes his Dundalk squad can return stronger from the disappointment of failing to make the knockout stages of the Europa League.
Dundalk lost 2-1 loss to Maccabi Tel Aviv in Netanya on Thursday night to end hopes of progressing from Group D.
AZ Alkmaar's victory over Zenit St Petersburg, however, had rendered the result in Israel as academic.
Despite the disappointment, Kenny is confident the Irish champions, whose flight back was held up overnight following a missed departure, can move forwards.
"This is something we will gain positive experiences from. For a lot of the players, it's been their first Europa League campaign," Kenny said, quoted in the Irish Mirror.
"Some of the players hadn't played that many European games at all before the start of this season, so that was a big plus for us.
"I have to salute the players for their ability to go right to the end."
There will, however, be some rebuilding ahead for the Lilywhites, with Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle both set to join English Championship side Preston.
Kenny added: "For us, it is going to be a short break as we're back in January for the league starting in February, but this will give the players huge experience to take into next year.
"If we're not seeded (in Europe next season), it is something we have to deal with, but we weren't seeded this year and it didn't hinder us."