Ballinamallard Captain Richard Clarke was disappointed with Saturday’s penalty shoot-out cup defeat to Dergview at Ferney Park, but accepted that the Mallards had not done enough to win the game over 90 minutes before an extended shoot-out saw Dergview progress 9-8.

“I always knew it was going to be a very tight game and it turned out to be that way. Overall, if you were calling it maybe a draw would have been a fair enough result, but when it goes to penalties it really is a lottery.

“It just shows you how tight the game was when the penalties go to 9-8 as well. I think, all in all, it was a tight game, and it was nip and tuck, but fair play to Dergview – on the day they deserved to go through, and we wish them well in the next round,” he said.

Clarke acknowledged that the home side failed to show enough of their usual free-flowing football on the day, but said that they will take the lessons from it with the main focus being on next season’s league campaign.

“In fairness to Dergview, they came with a game plan and it worked well; they stifled us and it took us a while to get going. At times, we showed glimpses of what we could do, but perhaps not enough over the entirety of the 90 minutes.

“We are a work in progress, we lost a few players in January and this was more a case of seeing where we are at, and a bit of preparation again, going forward for next year.

“We were just glad to get back to train and get a game under our belts – unfortunately it is not any more games, but we’ll take the positives out of it, and we know that there are things that we need to improve on as a squad.

“For us now as a squad, moving forward, it has to be about the bread and butter of the league campaign.

“We’ll just have to lick our wounds and come back in pre-season and have a real good go at this league and try and get out of the Championship and back to the Premiership, if possible,” he added.

And the Ducks skipper stated that the hunger is there to get back going next season.

“We’ve all spent too long sitting on the outskirts of it all and watching the Premiership going ahead. It has been frustrating, there is no doubt about that.

“It was nice to take part in the cup and I think we have benefitted more from taking part in it than not taking part.

“Going forward, it bodes well for us; we have a good crop of young players coming through in the likes of Reece Byrne, Alex Holder, Sam Robb and boys like that, so the future is promising.

“I have no doubt that Harry will be in the market as well trying to add one or two to the squad who he feels can improve and progress us.

“The appetite is definitely there and I can’t emphasis enough that we are all looking to get back into that routine of the Saturday to Saturday feeling. We have really missed it, because it has been so stop-start this season. We will take a break and be back in early June, re-focused and re-energised,” he said.