Newry will follow Carrick and Ballinamallard's lead in bouncing back from relegation: Mullen
Newry City 0 Dungannon Sw 1
Darren Mullen has promised that Newry City won't wallow in self-pity after suffering relegation from the Danske Bank Premiership.
Dungannon Swifts' 1-0 victory at the Showgrounds on Saturday afternoon condemned them to a quick return to the Bluefin Sport Championship. Mullen's men had needed to win and Ards to lose to Warrenpoint - with a four-goal swing - to pull off the great escape, but the odds were simply stacked against them.
Paul McElroy's deflected effort early in the second half was enough for Kris Lindsay's side to clinch victory, with Newry's sluggish display providing a microcosm for their entire campaign in general.
But a defiant Mullen has insisted that Newry will learn their lessons from their time in the top flight and look to return as quickly as possible.
"The game was probably a fair reflection of our season to be honest. We did well in parts but, ultimately, just not good enough," he said.
"We just lacked that quality and it's been a common theme throughout the season. We just haven't been good enough and as manager I'll take responsibility for that. It's a case now of taking it on the chin, regrouping and going at it again next year.
"We've had a terrific journey and it's been well-documented. I'm sure there's an argument to say we maybe came up a wee bit early, but it's been a terrific learning year for the club - financially, the structure, the new academy, everything about the club is a lot better on and off the pitch.
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"It's been a great learning experience for me personally as well.
"We'll learn from the mistakes we've made and hopefully push on next year, because I'm sure we'll go into the Championship next season as one of the favourites, but it's a really difficult league so it won't be easy going back into it.
"But you only have to look at Carrick and Ballinamallard and how they've reacted to the relegation - one in a play-off and one in an Irish Cup Final - so we have to follow their lead.
"It's a difficult day and it'll hurt for a while, but we can't feel sorry for ourselves. We just have to dust ourselves down and get back at it."
Newry played the first half with a strong wind at their backs but, despite this, they took until just before half-time to have their first effort on goal in a game they knew they had to win.
Dungannon keeper Evan Moran wasn't too troubled though, beating out Mark McCabe's 20-yard shot.
The Swifts took the lead just three minutes after the interval.
McElroy's shot from the edge of the box took a deflection off John Boyle, and Andy Coleman in the Newry goal was well beaten.
The introduction of young winger Pablo Cavalcante revitalised Newry and they lifted their game to a higher level, but they were unable to find a breakthrough of their own and draw level.
Moran twice denied Dale Montgomery late on and with the full-time whistle, Newry's return to the second tier was confirmed.
"It's been a long week and the defeat on Tuesday night (the 2-1 reversal against Institute) was difficult to take.
"I said that if we can't go and beat Institute and Dungannon then we don't deserve to be in this league, and ultimately we have just fallen short. We just haven't been good enough this year," added Newry boss Mullen.
"I feel sorry for the players, the fans and the staff because I can't fault them for their effort. It's tough, but that's just football for you."
Newry: Coleman, Teggart, M Hughes, King, Boyle, McCann (Mullen, 69 mins), Montgomery, Durnin (Delaney, 55 mins), Rushe, McCabe, Lavery (Cavalcante, 55 mins). Unused subs: Maguire, Curran, Pender.
Dungannon: Moran, Lowe, O'Rourke, Wilson, Ferrin, Hutchinson, Smyth (Conway, 83 mins), Gallagher (Patton, 47 mins), McElroy, Carvill 87, Lafferty (Campbell, 65 mins). Unused subs: Addis, Bell, Clucas, Conway.
Referee: Ian McNabb (Newtownabbey).
Man of the match: Evan Moran
Match rating: 7/10