Lilywhites Reach FAI Cup Final!!!!
Dundalk reached their third Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup on Tuesday evening with an extra-time win over Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium.
Ronan Finn had put Rovers in front before goals from David McMillan and Robbie Benson turned the tie in Dundalk’s favour. Michael O’Connor’s header sent the game to extra-time and McMillan grabbed his second before captain Stephen O’Donnell sealed the win with a header to make it 4-2 on the night in an enthralling Cup tie.
It was an electrifying start with Dundalk flying out of the blocks and Dylan Connolly had a shot parried away by Tomer Chencinski and with McMillan following up it was scrambled clear.
Michael Duffy then had a brilliant chance through on goal when McMillan played a wonderful through ball to him however it was deflected over the bar at the last moment.
Rovers took the lead against the run of play somewhat when a contentiously awarded free-kick wasn’t cleared properly by Sean Gannon and he headed it into the path of Ronan Finn and his angled volley was to the bottom right hand corner of the net past the sprawling dive of Gary Rogers on 10 minutes.
The Lilywhites were level 3 minutes later when a superb run forward from Gannon saw him float a wonderful cross to the back post and eluded the stranded Chencinski to find McMillan and he thundered a header to the net at the back post.
Trevor Clarke should have scored from close range when he turned Niclas Vemmelund however Vemmelund caused panic at the other end when his cross from the byline was eventually cleared despite a scramble in the goal mouth.
It was stop start for the remainder of the half with McMillan having a chance on the stroke of half-time when he turned on Duffy’s cross but he fired high and wide.
The second half didn’t start at the same pace as the first however Dundalk took the lead when Duffy’s corner was knocked back across goal by Brian Gartland and tapped to the net by Robbie Benson.
Dundalk should have doubled their advantage when Duffy’s shot was well palmed away by Chencinski before Connolly’s cross was headed towards goal by McMillan but the goalkeeper did well to recover and save.
Brandon Miele had an opportunity to level when his curling strike was pushed away brilliantly by Gary Rogers.
McMillan fired straight at the goalkeeper after some clever play on the right from Connolly before Connolly himself shot towards goal but it curled away to safety.
Rovers did level with five minutes left when Gary Shaw found space on the right and his swinging cross was headed to the net by Michael O’Connor with virtually his first touch.
Both sides had a chance to win it when Madden’s shot was palmed and then held by Rogers before O’Donnell shot towards goal but it went wide when he had options either side.
That proved to be the final action of note as we went to extra-time.
The first period was bereft of any quality with McMillan going closest from the edge of the area but most of the action occurred in the Rovers dugout when almost all players and technical staff were involved in a melee after Stephen O’Donnell and Stephen Bradley clashed.
Immediately after the re-start the Lilywhites took the lead.
Shane Grimes overlapped expertly on the left wing and his cross wasn’t cleared by Lee Grace and it fell to McMillan who volleyed on the turn past the arm of Chencinski to send the visiting support and players wide.
It was 4-2 moments later when captain fantastic O’Donnell got his head to Sean Hoare’s cross and the ball looped over the stranded goalkeeper to the net.
That was the insurance for Dundalk and they killed the game brilliantly using all their experience.
After 122 minutes referee Paul McLaughlin blew the full-time whistle to ensure Dundalk will face Cork City in the final at the AVIVA Stadium on November 5th.
SHAMROCK ROVERS: Tomer Chencinski; Simon Madden, Lee Grace, David Webster, Luke Byrne (Cameron King 72); Ronan Finn (capt), Roberto Lopes (Michael O’Connor 81), Ryan Connolly (James Doona 60); Brandon Miele, Gary Shaw, Trevor Clarke.
Substitutes not used: Kevin Horgan (GK), Dean Carpenter, Sean Boyd, Darren Clarke.
DUNDALK: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Sean Hoare, Niclas Vemmelund (Shane Grimes 46); Robbie Benson, Stephen O’Donnell (capt); Dylan Connolly (Thomas Stewart 7), Jamie McGrath, Michael Duffy (Chris Shields 106); David McMillan.
Substitutes not used: Gabriel Sava (GK), Carlton Ubaezuonu, Jake O’Connor, Jack O’Keeffe.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin