Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny paid tribute to his ‘phenomenal’ players after their Europa League campaign came to an end on Thursday, but says that they must continue striving to improve.

The League of Ireland Premier Division champions suffered defeat in their final Group D game, losing 2-1 away to Maccabi Tel-Aviv, but their fate was ultimately decided elsewhere as rivals AZ beat Zenit to extinguish any chances of the Irish side progressing to the knock-out stage.

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After beating BATE Borisov and Maccabi at home, drawing with AZ away and running Zenit close on two occasions, there are plenty of positives for Dundalk to take from their European experience, but the most important thing for Kenny is to build on their achievements.

“Overall, we need to improve, we definitely know that,” the Lilywhites boss told eirSport after the game.

“We played Zenit St Petersburg, who won their group in the Champions League last year, we played Maccabi, who were in the Champions League group stage last year, and there was never more than a goal in any of the games.

“We’ve drawn with AZ, beaten Maccabi and the two Zenit games were 2-1 games and tonight [against Maccabi] was 2-1. So they’re narrow defeats.