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Dundalk cruised into the quarter-finals of the FAI Cup following a comfortable 4-0 victory over non-league Malahide United at Gannon Park on Friday evening.
Played in miserable and testing conditions, the Lilywhites managed two goals in either half, Gary Shanahan and Mark Griffin in the first with Lorcan Shannon and Bob McKenna in the second. The hosts played second fiddle for most of the game and their misery was compounded with 15 minutes to go when Alan O'Keefe was given his marching orders when he chopped down Mark Griffin.
The hosts began the brighter and in the opening minutes two-time Cup winner Glen Crowe forced a good save from Dundalk 'keeper Peter Cherrie when his deft flick was well saved by the Scotsman. Despite controlling most of the opening 10 minutes, it was Dundalk who went in front with their first attack. Michael Rafter picked the ball up in midfield and his perfectly weighted pass found Shanahan who brilliantly dinked the ball over the advancing Pat Dunne and into the net to give Dundalk the lead.
This seemed to rattle the home side and their passing got a little ragged as Dundalk began to take control. Lorcan Shannon shot well over from 25 yards before Michael Rafter saw a stinging shot go just past Malahide's right hand post. With 15 minutes to go before the break, Dundalk almost made it two when Rafter carried the ball 30 yards before unleashing a shot which was brilliantly saved by 'keeper Dunne. Malahide United's Mark Higgins had a good effort saved by Cherrie before Dundalk doubled their advantage on the stroke of half-time.
After being brought down 35 yards from goal, Griffin decided to take the free-kick himself. From a long way out he his effort looked to be a straightforward catch for the goalkeeper but the ball squirmed from Dunne's grasp and into the bottom right hand corner. Griffin's first goal since May and Dundalk were two goals to the good at the break.
In the second half the hosts began with far more urgency. Slicker passing, better movement and some clever thinking brought the ball to the Dundalk 18 yard line, however it wasn't until the 59th minute that they had their first chance of the half. Stephen McDonnell was caught in possession by Glen Crowe. His pass went to Alan Doyle who was straight through on goal but blazed over from 12 yards with just Cherrie to beat.
Within ten minutes the Lilywhites had the chance to put the tie to bed. Rafter latched on to a loose ball on the edge of the box. His touch took him past goalkeeper Dunne and with the goal gaping, Rafter was brought down by the goalkeeper. The referee had no option but to point to the spot. Up stepped captain Chris Shields but his spot-kick was brilliantly saved by Dunne who redeemed himself for the foul. This should have given the home side an injection of life but five minutes later the tie was dead when Shannon found the ball at his feet following a stray pass from Mark O'Brien. He cut inside and hit a pile-driver to the bottom corner scoring his first senior goal.
Malahide were then reduced to ten men when Alan O'Keefe recklessly challenged Griffin and referee James McKell rightly gave him a red card. Dundalk then made it four as the game entered injury time when U19 prodigy Bob McKenna brilliantly slotted past Dunne after a good through ball from O'Brien.
Despite being rooted to the bottom of the table, Dundalk managed to taste victory in the FAI Cup. Indeed the 9-time winners can take some confidence with them from this match in their efforts to avoid the drop.
Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; Stephen McDonnell (Garreth Brady 63), Derek Foran, Chris Shields, Eoghan Osbourne; Lorcan Shannon, John Mountney, Mark O'Brien; Michael Rafter (William Woods 81), Mark Griffin (Bob McKenna 81), Gary Shanahan.
Subs not used: Chris Reilly, Nathan Murphy, Paul Walsh, Philip McCabe.
Booked: Foran (57).
Malahide United: Pat Dunne; Mark Logan, Alan O'Riordain, Danny Butler, Paul Perth; Mark Higgins, Alan Doyle (Gary Murphy 56), Noel McGinty (Mark Cashin 74), Alan O'Keefe; Gareth Logan (Barry Slattery 70), Glen Crowe,
Subs not used: Karl Moody, Adam Shabadaneen.
Sent off: Alan O'Keefe (78).
Referee: James McKell.
Extratime.ie man of the match: Michael Rafter (Dundalk).