West Ham Women captain Gilly Flaherty has said that the occasion of reaching an FA Cup final is more than enough for her side to be proud of, despite falling to a 3-0 defeat to Manchester City.
The Hammers have managed to comfortably avoid relegation in their first season as a professional Women's Super League side, and had the chance to put the icing on the cake with a major trophy last weekend.
Coming up against a strong City side who had yet to lose domestically, however, they were beaten by a flurry of second half goals from Keira Walsh, Georgia Stanway and Lauren Hemp, but can nonetheless take pride in their accomplishments.
"It's so hard to put into words, but it's just incredible walking out there. You can see all your friends and family, and it's just a proud moment," Flaherty said, speaking to 90min after the match.
"Regardless of the result and how we played, we can take so much away from it. There's things there that these girls will never forget. We were pleased with how the first half went, we defended for our lives, but then it took its toll in the second half because we'd done so much defending.
Proud would be an understatement. No one fancied us to get to final in the first place, let alone do what we did yesterday. Fatigued set in the second half after a brilliant 1st half, but we learn from it & we go again ⚒ Thank you to the fans who were unreal ❤️ #COYI pic.twitter.com/Yhzdz97Slz— Gilly Flaherty (@Gilly_flaherty) May 5, 2019
"But full credit to City, they took their chances - I think they had four and scored three."
Reflecting on the game itself, her teammate Claire Rafferty spoke with a similar sentiment, insisting she was proud of her side's performance despite being beaten by a better team – and revealing a wrinkle in her pre-match plans.
"I've been really sick the last couple of days," she admitted. "Really bad! I've was throwing up like all of last night. So.I won't be doing a great deal tonight!"
She continued: "At half-time, we just wanted more of the same really. But we came out in the second half and it felt like we were going uphill.
"But it was a great occasion, so to perform like we did in the first half, I was so proud of the girls."