By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
On the morning after the night before, Dave Watson's overriding emotion was one of pride despite his Newcastle youngsters being beaten in the final of the Milk Cup on Thursday evening.
Desportivo Brazil proved to be too strong, running out 3-0 winners at the Ballymena Showgrounds in Northern Ireland, but coach Watson could not fault his players' efforts throughout the tournament.
They beat local side County Farmanagh (4-0), Pechuca of Mexico (6-0) and Russian outfit CSKA Moscow (3-1) to qualify for the semi-finals of the Premier section, then overcame Bolton with a 2-0 win to set up the final meeting with the Brazilians.
After a goalless first half, the South American starlets came out on top in front of first-team boss Alan Pardew, who flew out to watch the match, with goals from Bruno Conceição, Aguilar Oliveira and Ramalho.
Speaking shortly before the squad boarded the plane back to Tyneside, Watson told nufc.co.uk: "Everyone had said that they were by far the best team in the competition and that they were the team to beat, but we gave a decent account of ourselves.
"I think five games in five days was possibly a little bit too much for us and they were strong, but we had a good go at them and all credit to the lads for getting to the final. I just think we ran out of steam in the fifth game.
"When they got the first goal, the momentum changes but we hung on in there. They've gone on and battered teams before but we were going toe-to-toe with them. But once they got the goal and we started chasing the game, they punished us.
"But it's been a great tournament. We played all these different types of teams and they've done really well."
The majority of the team has been together for several years, but the likes of Rolando Aarons, Macauley Booth and Lubo Satka are all recent recruits to the Academy while a handful of players from younger age groups also featued.
"First years have came away with us and well as lads like Adam Armstrong, who's 15 and played in all of the games, and Fred (Woodman), the goalie, who also played all the games," Watson said.
"It's great for them and it'll stand them in good stead. Rolando (Aarons) scored some fantastic goals and done great things over here so it's been great for them.
"The kids have really conducted themselves well. We had a game against the Russians, who were really physical and we had to keep a good discipline about ourselves - which we did.
"We've came out of the tournament and we've made a lot of friends out of it, and I'm sure Newcastle United will be invited back.
"The manager came over and Peter Beardsley came over so it was really good support from the club, and Adam Campbell got player of the tournament, so that's a big plus as well."