Blues Bow Out

by Mark Rowan

Holders Everton bowed out of the Northern Ireland Milk Cup on Wednesday after suffering a shock 0-2 defeat to Dundalk Schoolboys in the quarter-finals of the competition.

Goals from McArdle and Finan condemned the Blues to an earlier exit than anticipated and coach Gary Ablett was left to reflect on what might have been after the game.

"We didn't turn up to play - it's as simple as that," he told

"There was only one team who stopped us from winning the competition and that was ourselves. We knew that if we didn't match the passion and commitment of Dundalk we'd be in trouble - and that's exactly what happened.

"We became involved in a scrap with them, we stopped playing our normal passing game and gave away stupid free kicks, which they in turn scored from.

"All credit to Dundalk, they were the better side on the day, but they should never have beaten our lads."

Everton now play Preston North End on Thursday evening in a play-off to determine who will finish between fifth and eight place.

"We're going to give a chance to some of the younger lads against Preston. They've been desperate to impress and we hope they'll take this opportunity.

"Everyone over here is very disappointed - but we as coaches and the players themselves have learnt a lot from the defeat. It'll be interesting to see how they react."

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