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Manner of Larne’s European departure tough to take after second leg disappointment, admits Jeff Hughes


Jeff Hughes leads Larne out at Inver Park but his side lost 1-0 to St Joseph's

Jeff Hughes leads Larne out at Inver Park but his side lost 1-0 to St Joseph's

Jeff Hughes leads Larne out at Inver Park but his side lost 1-0 to St Joseph's

Larne captain Jeff Hughes admitted the players only have themselves to blame for crashing out of Europe in disappointing fashion.

Tiernan Lynch’s men were tipped to finish off Gibraltar side St Joseph’s at Inver Park following the scoreless first leg tie but they stumbled to a 1-0 defeat which robbed them of a Europa Conference League showdown with Slavia Prague.

Mark Randall was sent off for two cautions and the visitors scored the only goal of the tie through Julian Valarino.

For Larne, who reached the third qualifying round in their maiden European campaign last season, this was not in the script and Hughes admitted his side paid a heavy price for a poor showing.

“It’s very hard to take,” he said. “I felt we dominated possession but lacked a cutting edge.

“We didn’t create enough and were punished. We just weren’t good enough so we will just have to take it on the chin and learn from it. It’s great to progress in any competition but we let ourselves down.

“We had a few half-chances and a lot of territory but a silly mistake ended up costing us.

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“When we went down to 10 men we have a plan but it’s our own fault we conceded the goal.

“It’s important we analyse the game to see what we did wrong and how we can fix it.”

As revealed in the Belfast Telegraph this week, the Northern Ireland Football League have confirmed that the Charity Shield will return for the first time in five years next month.

Danske Bank Premiership champions Linfield will play Irish Cup winners Crusaders at Windsor Park on Saturday, August 6.

It is the first time the Charity Shield, traditionally a curtain-raiser to the new Irish League season, will have been played since 2017.

It has returned as part of NIFL’s charity partnership with White Ribbon NI. White Ribbon NI has been set up to challenge the attitudes and behaviours which lead to violence against women and girls in Northern Ireland.

Tahnee McCorry of White Ribbon NI said: “The partnership with the NI Football League has been a huge success in getting the core message of the White Ribbon NI pledge engrained within football. We’re delighted to be taking this to the next level by bringing back the Charity Shield to reinforce our message within the football community.”

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