Dave Donnelly reports from Tallaght Stadium
Dundalk are one step away from a second succeessive Leinster Senior Cup final after a youthful-looking side eased past Shamrock Rovers with a 1-0 win at Tallaght Stadium.
Ronan Murray scored the only goal of the game midway through the first half and, while the Aidan Price-coached hosts had the majority of the play, they lacked the Lilywhites' cutting edge.
The game's first half-chance fell to striker Marco Tagbajumi – one of several players making a rare start for the Lilywhites – but he couldn't keep his header from John Mountney's corner down.
A slick passing move from the home side wasn't far off reaping dividends as Sean Boyd found space wide on the right but his low cross, while inviting, was just too far ahead of Dean Williams.
The first effort on target came from Rovers as Brandon Miele's free kick was cleared only as far as Evan Smithers, and his reverse pass found Ally Gilchrist, who shot straight at Gabriel Sava.
Dundalk should have led within a minute, as Carlton Ubaezuonu found space on the left wing and pulled the ball back for Ronan Murray, but Luke Byrne bravely blocked his goalbound shot.
Four minutes, Murray did put the visitors in front in very similar circumstances, as Jack O'Keefe turned Ubaezuonu's cross back to Murray, who made no mistake this time.
Dundalk had a major stroke of fortune soon after as Georgie Poynton was caught under Evan Smither's lofted pass and Sean Boyd seemed to have gotten goalside.
The big striker went down in a tangle with Poynton, playing at centre-half alongside Gavin Smith, but referee Derek Tomney adjudged Boyd to have committed the foul.
There was a nervy moment for 17-year-old Kian Clarke in the Rovers goal when the topspin on Murray's free kick saw him spill the ball, but the rebound wouldn't sit up for Dean Jarvis.
In an open finish to the half, Brandon Miele tested Sava with a drive from distance, while Clarke showed sharp reactions to keep out a furious volley from Tagbajumi.
The tempo dropped after the break as the greater experience in the Lilywhites side showed in their management of the game, though they did lost John Mountney to injury.
A scuffed Miele shot was the best the hosts could muster until Eric Abulu dropped a shoulder and whipped in a lovely cross that Harry Cornally just couldn't quite steer on target.
A mistae from Murray opened up a chance for Dean Williams moments later, but the young striker opted to take on the shot rather than use the Emmanuel Lawl in space outside him.
Dundalk should have wrapped up the game on the break late on as Ubaezuonou was played in off the left wing but Clarke was out sharply to take the ball at his feet.
Rovers had a succession of free kicks and corners in injury time but lacked the creative spark to break down the visitors, who march onto the open draw for the semi-finals.
Shamrock Rovers: Kian Clarke; Cian Collins, Ally Gilchrist, Luke Byrne; Emmanuel Lawal, Evan Smithers, Aaron Bolger, Brandon Miele (Evan White 67), Eric Abulu; Sean Boyd (Harry Cornally 33), Dean Williams.
Subs not used: Adam Kenny (gk), Adam O'Connor, Darragh O'Connor, Kenny Cunningham, Richie English.
Booked: Ally Gilchrist (7).
Dundalk: Gabriel Sava; Karl Fitzsimons, Gavin Smith, Georgie Poynton, Dean Jarvis; Jack O'Keefe (Cian Flynn 82), John Mountney (Jordan Maguire 63), Karolis Chvedukas, Carlton Ubaezuono; Ronan Murray, Marco Tagbajumi.
Subs not used: Ross Treacy (gk), Kyle Molloy, Kevin Kelly, Adam Finnegan.
Booked: Jack O'Keefe (20), Gavin Smith (23), Karolis Chvedukas (56), Ronan Murray (89).
Referee: Derek Tomney.
Attendance: 500 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Georgie Poynton (Dundalk).