Former Gypsy Jason McGuinness scored the only goal of a disappointing semi-final at Dalymount Park on Sunday afternoon to send Sligo Rovers into their third successive FAI Cup final.
Sligo made the early running without ever seriously threatening the Bohemians goal, the earliest incident of note being a big shout from the visitors for a penalty on eight minutes. It was full back Alan Keane who knocked a ball through only for it to strike the arm of Ger O’Brien, but referee Damien Hancock waved play on.
Killian Brennan and Chris Forrester were behind most of the home side’s positive play but it remained a game in which Sligo played the better football. Without ever forcing Bohs’ keeper Barry Murphy to extend himself, the Bit o’ Red did have the ball in the net on 27 minutes.
Aaron Greene swept past Ollie Cahill on the right and fired a shot towards goal that John Russell helped on its way into the corner of the Bohs net. But Russell was a yard off-side and the visitor’s celebrations were cut short by the assistant’s flag.
Apart from the that the only real moments of excitement came when Sligo ‘keeper Brendan Clarke sent two attempted clearances straight to the feet of Chris Forrester but the Bohs midfielder was unable to take advantage on either occasion.
The second half saw Sligo maintain the upper hand delivering a series of early free kicks that seemed to offer the best chance of a breakthrough goal. On 51 minutes Joseph Ndo took a free from wide on the left that Barry Murphy got a hand to despite pressure from Jason McGuinness, Owen Heary completing the clearance.
But Paul Cook’s men weren’t making the most of their dominance and around the hour mark Bohemians finally started to fill the void with a passage of play that threatened to turn the tide in their direction.
Stephen Traynor, Chris Forrester and Stephen Hurley all began to show why they are viewed as such promising players down Phibsborough way and Chief architect Glenn Cronin began to influence the game like the veteran he is.
But despite the passions that Bohemians’ football had awakened in the crowd they failed to muster a single serious effort on goal and gradually Sligo prised the baton from their hands.
Mathew Blinkhorn and John Dillon came on for Sligo and on 70 minutes a sliding Blinkhorn just failed to connect with a low cross from the left by Greene. Three minutes later the Cup holders were ahead.
A corner was cleared only as far as Richie Ryan on the right and his superb deep cross found Jason McGuinness lurking at the back post. The former Gypsy swung a leg at the ball and whipped it past Murphy and into the far corner of the Bohemians net from six yards out sending the visiting support into raptures.
For the remainder of the game Bohemians set about disconnecting the kitchen sink and propelling it in the general direction of the Sligo goal but the minutes ticked away without Brendan Clarke being forced into a save of any note. Finally time ran out and Sligo crossed the line, the players celebrating their third successive trip to an FAI Cup final in front of their impressive band of travelling support.
Bohemians: Barry Murphy; Mark Rossiter (Kevin Feely, 85), Owen Heary, Ger O’Brien, Ollie Cahill; Chris Forrester, Glenn Cronin, Stephen Hurley (Keith Buckley, 77), Stephen Traynor (Gary Burke, 89), Killian Brennan; Aidan Downes.
Subs not used: Craig Sexton, Roberto Lopez, Lee Dixon, Ryan McEvoy.
Bookings: Hurley (44), Cahill (83), Buckley (94).
Sligo Rovers: Brendan Clarke; Alan Keane, Gavin Peers, Jason McGuinness, Iarfhlaith Davoren; Joseph Ndo, Danny Ventre (John Dillon, 66), Richie Ryan, John Russell (Mathew Blinkhorn, 64), Aaron Greene (Raffaele Cretaro, 88); Eoin Doyle.
Subs not used: Ciaran Kelly, Conor Powell, Derek Foran, Alan Kirby.
Bookings: Peers (9), Russell (29), Doyle (94).
Referee: Damien Hancock.
extratime.ie Man of the Match: Richie Ryan.