Daryl Horgan’s first goal of his second coming was enough to see Dundalk book their place in the quarter-finals of the Sports Direct Men’s FAI Cup.
With 86 minutes on the clock, and extra time looming large in the torrential rain at The Carlisle Grounds, the 31-year-old made the breakthrough to end First Division Bray Wanderers’ resistance.
Connor Malley’s ball into the penalty area was knocked down by Patrick Hoban and Horgan’s effort took a deflection off Cole Omorehiomwan and looped over Matthew Connor to put Dundalk into the hat for Tuesday’s last-eight draw.
Stephen O’Donnell’s men controlled the first half but went in frustrated at the break after failing to turn their possession into meaningful chances.
Their best opening came in the 25th minute when Sean Quinn clipped John Martin’s heels as he ran away from goal but Malley thumped the resulting penalty against the crossbar.
Daniel Kelly found himself caught in two minds after picking up a Malley pass on the inside right and Martin saw a header kiss the angle of crossbar and post towards the end of a half played in a constant downpour.
The hosts, who had to play against the elements in the opening 45 minutes, created little themselves with a ninth-minute Darren Craven free kick just evading Ben Feeney in the six-yard box.
The second half followed the same pattern and Archie Davies let rip with a half-volley that curled just wide after a bit of quality from first-half substitute Sam Durrant saw him whip a dangerous cross across the face of the goal.
Kelly was then denied the opener by a brilliant intervention from Sean Quinn, who somehow managed to get back and hack the ball away before it crossed the line, and Horgan then fired a warning when he dragged one just wide of the upright.
Despite having the wind at their backs, Bray’s openings were few and far between and Callum Thompson snatched at a good opening when he ran onto a dropping ball, blazing his shot over the top from a good position.
Horgan’s goal had the loyal, travelling support singing in the rain but there was still time for a late scare when Darren Mullen checked in from the right but his wild effort flew over the top and Dundalk saw it out to take another step towards the Aviva Stadium.
BRAY WANDERERS: Matthew Connor; Max Murphy, Sean Quinn, Cole Omorehiomwan, Dane Massey; Callum Thompson, Guillermo Almirall, Darren Craven, Conor Crowley (Harry Groome 68), Len O’Sullivan (Jake Walker 89); Ben Feeney (Yoyo Mahdy 68) (Daniel Chukwu 81). Subs not used: Alex Moody (GK), Jack Hudson, Dave Webster, Conor Knight, Zach Nolan.
DUNDALK FC: Nathan Shepperd; Archie Davies, Darren Brownlie, Louie Annesley, Robbie McCourt; Daniel Kelly, Johannes Yli-Kokko (Alfie Lewis 74), Daryl Horgan, Connor Malley, Ryan O’Kane (Sam Durrant 39); John Martin (Patrick Hoban 74). Subs not used: Darragh Leahy, Andy Boyle, Greg Sloggett, Cameron Elliott, Peter Cherrie (GK), Mark Byrne (GK).
REFEREE: Robert Hennessy.