McEleney Magic Sends Lilywhites To Final!
Dundalk reached the final of the Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup final on Friday evening with a 1-0 victory over UCD at Oriel Park!
A moment of Patrick McEleney magic was the difference between the sides and ensured that Stephen Kenny’s men will finish the season at the AVIVA Stadium on November 4th.
Dundalk had the first opportunity of the half in the sixth minute when Michael Duffy’s free-kick struck the wall and rebounded to Dane Massey but his effort was wide of the post.
Brian Gartland then got his head on Duffy’s corner but he couldn’t direct it goalwards and Patrick Hoban fired fiercely from 30 yards but he was nowhere near the target.
The Lilywhites dominated the opening stages but weren’t able to land a killer blow.
More chances followed as Dundalk upped the tempo on the way towards half-time.
Daniel Cleary headed goalwards but it was easy for the goalkeeper while Chri Shields fired from distance but he couldn’t control it and it went wide.
Sean Gannon raided on the right and looked like he had won himself a penalty however the referee wasn’t interested when he went down in the box under a foul.
Gannon again got in behind and decided to square it for Hoban instead of shooting but the chance was gone and the ball was cleared.
Robbie Benson had a free-kick go over the bar and John Mountney a shot deflected on the edge of the area but the lead goal would come with just 4 minutes before the interval.
McEleney picked the ball up 40 yards from goal and drove towards the UCD defence with conviction. He took it past a plethora of players before unleashing a superb strike to the top left corner from the edge of the area giving Conor Kearns no chance.
Hoban had a chance to make it 2-0 when Duffy’s corner from the right fell to him but his shot didn’t have enough power and Kearns was down to save and in injury-time at the end of the first 45 the striker again engineered space for himself and shot on the turn but the goalkeeper saved well.
Massey had the first chance of the second half and even though it may have been unintentional his corner almost found the net but Kearns did well to claw it away.
Mountney then found success on the right and crossed for Duffy but his shot on the half turn was blocked by Dan Tobin.
McEleney’s angled ball from 30 yards beat Josh Collins and found the head of Hoban but the striker couldn’t get enough on it while at the other end Gary O’Neill’s excellent free-kick was well parried away by Gary Rogers.
Duffy got his head onto Gannon’s cross but couldn’t get enough power in it and McEleney tried to repeat the trick for his goal but his attempted effort went well over the crossbar.
Neil Faruggia then had an attempt from distance go straight at Rogers for UCD while McEleney found himself perfectly placed from Hoban’s layoff to make it 2 but his shot was weak and at the goalkeeper.
Hoban appeared to be on a mission to find the net and his superb run was found by McEleney but the striker shot straight at Kearns once more.
Hoban then tried to set up Gannon as he got in behind however Collins got across well to block down the chance in the final minute.
It looked like Hoban had finally got his goal in injury-time when a sublime backheel from Chris Shields set in Duffy and his cross for Hoban looked like it left the number 9 with the simple task of finishing however his shot from point blank range was well saved by the goalkeeper.
McEleney had the final chance on the night as he almost crowned his man of the match display with a second however his curling effort was just over the bar.
That proved to be it as Dundalk qualified for their fourth straight Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup final.
DUNDALK: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland (capt), Daniel Cleary, Dane Massey; Chris Shields, Robbie Benson (Dean Jarvis 90); John Mountney (Jamie McGrath 76), Patrick McEleney, Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban.
Substitutes not used: Gabriel Sava (GK), Stephen Folan, Dylan Connolly, Ronan Murray, Georgie Kelly.
Booked: Cleary (19), Shields (65)
Sent off: None.
UCD: Conor Kearns; Dan Tobin (Yoyo Mahdy 87), Paul Doyle, Liam Scales, James McClelland; Timmy Molloy (Daire O’Connor 82), Greg Sloggett, Gary O’Neill, Josh Collins, Neil Farrugia; Conor Davis.
Substitutes not used: Gavin Sheridan (GK), Evan Farrell, Kevin Coffey, Conor Crowley, Sean McDonald.
Booked: Davis (19)
Sent off: None.
Referee: Robert Hennessy.