FAI Cup fi­nal

Dun­dalk take their chances:

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Front Page - Em­met Mal­one Soc­cer Cor­re­spon­dent, at the Aviva Sta­dium

A day with more drama, per­haps, than the pre­vi­ous three fi­nals be­tween these sides; cer­tainly more goals in the 90 min­utes and a cracker from Pa­trick McEleney in the clos­ing stages to seal an­other dou­ble for Dun­dalk.

On the bal­ance of play Cork City can­not have too many com­plaints. It was a valiant ef­fort by John Caulfield’s men but, though they held their own for the most part, it was dif­fi­cult to see where a win­ner was go­ing to come from. They are en­ti­tled to won­der how things might have turned out had Neil Doyle shown Chris Shields a sec­ond yel­low two min­utes into the sec­ond half for a late chal­lenge on Jimmy Keo­hane and there was a half de­cent penalty claim late on for Gra­ham Cum­mins.

For all that, though, Dun­dalk edged it and if Michael Duffy had squared it for Pat Hoban in­stead of shoot­ing late on when City were chas­ing the game and over­com­mit­ted, the mar­gin of vic­tory would have been that bit wider.

De­flected

The clos­est they came to forc­ing yet an­other fi­nal into ex­tra-time was when Kieran Sadlier’s long range ef­fort was de­flected and Gary Rogers did really well to push the ball over and, though they kept chas­ing the equaliser they needed, it wouldn’t come. Their fi­nal throw of the dice was from a free five min­utes into added time which Barry McNamee de­liv­ered well to the far post but the ball wouldn’t quite fall in the way re­quired and as the Dun­dalk de­fence got it clear Doyle sig­nalled that they had done enough.

The open­ing stages were, as they al­ways seem to be when these two meet in this game, far more dis­jointed with a suc­ces­sion of stop­pages pre­vent­ing ei­ther team from set­tling into any sort of real rhythm. Re­ceived wis­dom has it that that would be to Cork’s ben­e­fit but Caulfield’s side couldn’t claim a monopoly on the phys­i­cal side of the early ex­changes here with a cou­ple of their at­tempts to break for­ward brought to a sud­den stop.

Ei­ther way, it was a frus­trat­ing open­ing quar­ter of an hour with John Mount­ney’s missed header from close range the only chance of note. Michael Duffy had pro­vided the cross for that and the abil­ity of Conor McCarthy, in for the in­jured Steven Beat­tie, to deal with the north­erner was clearly go­ing to be a big fac­tor in the game. For the all the early feisti­ness in and around the cen­tre cir­cle it was the 20-year-old right back who earned the game’s first book­ing when he sought to pre­vent his man get­ting for­ward to join in an at­tack that sud­denly had City look­ing stretched.

By then the sides had ex­changed goals with Sean Hoare at the heart of an event­ful two minute spell. His goal was a shin­ing ex­am­ple of how to put a header away from a cor­ner with the cen­tral de­fender tim­ing his run and jump to per­fec­tion; much bet­ter any­way than Mark McNulty who came but got nowhere near the ball.

Al­most from the restart the de­fender was sort of suck­ered af­ter find­ing him­self in a tus­sle with Karl Shep­pard. The striker looked un­bal­anced once but there was noth­ing much in it and he did well to get him­self be­tween the ball and his marker again.

Am­bi­tion

That looked to be about the ex­tent of his am­bi­tion really but it was enough; Hoare made an at­tempt to get around him and play the ball but he failed to make con­tact with any­thing but the player. Kieran Sadlier con­verted the penalty to be­come the first player in 44 years to score in ev­ery round of the cup but it was close run thing with Gary Rogers clearly ag­i­tated at hav­ing guessed right but not got down quite fast enough.

It was a much bet­ter game af­ter that though not a bril­liant one. Shep­pard chased ev­ery­thing that came his way, which was not an aw­ful lot, while Gearóid Mor­ris­sey and Garry Buck­ley led the way as City out their press­ing game into full ef­fect. It worked for them in term of frus­trat­ing their op­po­nents and McCarthy con­tin­ued to do par­tic­u­larly well on Duffy but they found it harder to create much in the fi­nal third them­selves.

Brian Gart­land had a header cleared off the line by Shane Grif­fin in the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of the two goals but it was well into the sec­ond half be­fore there was an­other scor­ing op­por­tu­nity that was any­where near so clearcut. An Alan Ben­nett er­ror al­most let Hoban in and Sean McLough­lin was there to clear when McNulty could only parry a flicked Rob­bie Ben­son header.

McEleney’s was an­other thing al­to­gether though, with Sean Gan­non’s sen­sa­tional cross tee­ing the mid­fielder up to wrong­foot the goal­keeper who still got a hand to it but couldn’t do more than take the sting off it as it flew into the net.

Kenny hailed the scorer as a “spe­cial tal­ent af­ter­wards”. This, they had shown us once again, is clearly a spe­cial team.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: RYAN BYRNE/INPHO

Pa­trick McEleney rises above the Cork City de­fence to head home the win­ner for Dun­dalk at the Aviva Sta­dium yes­ter­day.

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