Kelly hat-trick sends Dundalk into FAI Cup semis
Dundalk are through to the semi-finals of the Extra.ie FAI Cup after a Daniel Kelly hat-trick propelled them to a 3-1 win over Waterford at the RSC.
Kelly’s three goal blitz gave the Lilywhites a 3-0 half time lead, secured by an Aaron McCarey penalty save from Shane Duggan just before the interval.
Vinny Perth’s men had chances to extend their lead after the break, but a fortunate Maxim Kuougun goal gave the home side hope just before the hour mark and it made for a tricky last half hour, with the Blues pressing at every opportunity.
But the margin remained at two goals for the remainder of the game, as the Lilywhites held firm to book a place in the semi-final draw and a shot at a fifth trip to the Aviva on the first weekend in November.
Dundalk head coach Vinny Perth made six changes to the side that beat Cork City in the SSE Airtricity League on Friday night, making the most of his squad depth such a sustained high volume of matches.
Aaron McCarey started in goal behind a new back four, led by captain Brian Gartland, whilst Daniel Kelly came in on the right side of the front three, and the Lilywhites – wearing their purple third kit in aid of Temple Street Children’s Hospital – wasted no time in making their mark on the game, forcing two corners in the opening four minutes.
Pat Hoban had a shot from distance parried by Waterford keeper Matthew Connor, before a nice Dundalk move lead to Michael Duffy’s shot being blocked by Maxim Kougun.
The opening goal soon arrived, however, with just eight minutes on the clock. Patrick Hoban found space on the right and he fired a low cross into the box which Daniel Kelly met perfectly with his right foot to fire home.
Once ahead, Dundalk took further control of the game and Kelly made it two halfway through the half. Once again Hoban was the provider, hooking the ball down the right touchline to find Kelly in space in the Waterford box. The winger drew Connor expertly before slotting home calmly at the near post.
Waterford almost pulled a goal back on the half hour mark, when Rory Feeley’s header back across goal from Kevin Lynch’s deep left-wing cross looped narrowly wide of the far post, but they were soon left to rue the missed opportunity.
Just three minutes later Kelly completed his second hat-trick of the season, finishing off a fantastic, sweeping Dundalk move when he glanced home Patrick McEleney’s right wing cross to put the Lilywhites three up and firmly in control.
The goal sprung Waterford into life and, almost immediately, the Blues almost pulled one back, when McCarey’s smart save fell to former Dundalk man Michael O’Connor, who fired over the bar.
A minute later Gartland was adjudged to have fouled O’Connor in the box and referee Paul Tuite pointed to the spot, but McCarey read Shane Duggan’s penalty well, saving low to his left to keep the lead at three.
The Lilywhites could have extended the lead before the break, with Jamie McGrath firing wide of the near post before Hoban almost rounded off another fantastic Dundalk move with a diving header from Cameron Dummigan’s brilliant cross, but it flew narrowly over.
Waterford started on the front foot and McCarey was forced into a fine point-blank save from Kenny Browne’s header, before McGrath headed over the bar from 10 yards out after another smart cross from Dummigan.
It was a chance to kill the game as a contest, but a stroke of good fortune breathed new life back into the Waterford challenge on 56 minutes.
Georgie Poynton’s corner from the right was missed at the near post and a clearance looped up into the box before Brian Gartland’s clearing header hit straight into Maxim Kouogun and ballooned over Aaron McCarey into the net.
Dundalk were caught cold a couple of minutes and could have been two down, when O’Connor raced clear of the back four, but fired wide after excellent recover work from Sean Hoare.
It was as close as Waterford would come to narrowing the gap to a single goal and, as the game became more niggly, there were as many fouls as clear sights of goal, with Shane Duggan lucky not to be sent off for a challenge on Dan Kelly with 20 minutes to go.
The winger was forced off from the incident but, with McCarey dealing well with a couple of speculative efforts in the closing stages to keep the scoreline comfortable, it was Kelly’s first-half contribution that made the key difference in the game.
The Lilywhites ran out deserving 3-1 winners and are through to the FAI Cup semi-final for the fifth season in succession.
WATERFORD: Matthew Connor (GK); Rory Feely (c), Maxim Kougun, Kenny Browne, Kevin Lynch; Walter Figueira, Georgie Poynton, Sam Bone (Dean O’Halloran, 78), Shane Duggan (JJ Lunney, 69), Will Fitzgerald (Cory Galvin, 62); Michael O’Connor
Substitutes not used: Paul Martin (GK), Tom Holland, Rob Slevin, Darragh Power
Booked: Poynton (49), Duggan (67), Bone (74), O’Connor (90+1)
Sent off: None
DUNDALK: Aaron McCarey (GK); Cameron Dummigan (Sean Gannon, 73); Brian Gartland (c), Sean Hoare, Dane Massey; Chris Shields, Patrick McEleney; Daniel Kelly (Robbie Benson, 70), Jamie McGrath, Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban (Georgie Kelly, 81)
Substitutes not used: Gary Rogers (GK), Andy Boyle, Dean Jarvis, Lido Lotefa
Sent off: None
Referee: Paul Tuite