This heartache will spur us on in future, vows Royal & Prior captain Alex Tinney
Royal & Prior captain Alex Tinney has promised his team will come back stronger following their narrow 2-1 McCullough Cup final defeat to Banbridge Academy yesterday afternoon at Lisnagarvey.
"We had a good opportunity to win it, but there's no disgrace in being beaten in a final," said Irish Under-21 star Tinney afterwards.
"We have a young team with many available again next year, and it's the first time they've had the chance to play in front of a big crowd like this which was probably nerve-wracking at the start for them.
"It's now 15 years since our school last reached the final but unfortunately we're still waiting for our first win in the competition.
"But our thanks go to all our fans who made the long trip down from Raphoe to Garvey to give us support.
"We really appreciate it and they certainly added to the atmosphere.
"But overall our team gave a good account of ourselves and we'll know what to expect the next time.
"Now we'll just have to concentrate on winning the Burney Cup instead!"
His Banbridge counterpart Kyle Marshall admitted that it was a tight game and that the outcome could have gone either way.
"We were a bit ropey at times towards the end of the first half, and then the yellow cards in the second half didn't help matters," said the Irish Under-21 defender, who is already an established player in the town's Irish Hockey League team.
"But we did enough and had sufficient firepower to get our hands on the trophy again."
Academy coach Mark Cordner also accepted his team weren't at their best but felt they still edged the final.
"We started well and then seemed to lose our way a little as Royal & Prior put a bit of pressure on, particularly late in the first half and also late in the second half," he said.
"And the yellow cards didn't help as it disrupted our pattern of play. But in the end we just had enough in the tank to secure the win."
Bann ace Jake Rowe's two goals earned him the man of the match award but a number of players pushed him for the John Waring Memorial Cup, which was presented afterwards by John's son Richard.
Others in the frame for the honour included Rowe's Banbridge team-mates Marshall, goalkeeper Luke Roleston and Mark Barlow.
And Royal & Prior's Tinney, Luke Witherow and Peter Scott also featured in the thinking, as did their goalkeeper Sbusiso Ogwudile, who pulled off a handful of fine saves to keep his team in contention until the final whistle.