St. Patrick’s Athletic took a giant step to ending their 51 year wait for FAI Cup success as they brushed aside a plucky Dundalk side on Sunday afternoon at Oriel Park. A first half goal from Kenny Browne and a goal apiece in the second period from former Lilywhite Greg Bolger and Sean O’Connor gave the Saints a three goal victory and a place in November 4th’s final at the Aviva Stadium.
The game began as a typical FAI Cup semi-final would, both teams slightly nervous and trying to find their feet. Despite all their possession, St. Patrick’s didn’t muster up a chance of note in the opening quarter of an hour and it was Dundalk’s John Mountney who managed to break through the midfield but his shot was weak and went wide of Barry Murphy’s goal.
Pat’s reacted well and Sean O’Connor’s free-kick was brilliantly saved by Dundalk ‘keeper Peter Cherrie on 20 minutes and knocked it out for a corner. From the resultant kick, the Saints took the lead. Ger O’Brien’s cross was deep to the back post and it was headed back across goal by Chris Forrester where he found Kenny Browne who gladly finished to the net from 6 yards.
The hosts responded well when Michael Rafter did well to beat Browne but his shot was straight at Brendan Clarke. Then, Barry Conlon missed a gilt edge chance to equalise. John Mountney’s free-kick found Conlon who was unmarked but he headed wide from 6 yards with just the ‘keeper to beat.
The game then descended into scrappiness as both sides tried to gain control of the game. Christy Fagan shot straight at Cherrie following a knock-on by Ian Bermingham while Forrester had an effort saved by Cherrie with 5 minutes remaining until half-time. Rafter hit a free-kick over the bar for Dundalk just before half-time.
Browne’s goal separated the side’s at the break with the Lilywhites with it all to do.
Straight after the break, O’Brien shot wide for St. Pat’s before Dundalk’s task was made even more difficult. O’Connor found space on the right hand side and his pin-point cross found substitute Bolger who had the easiest of tasks to head past Cherrie into the Dundalk net.
The Lilywhites almost found a way back into the game on the hour mark when Shanahan found Mountney and he laid it off to Rafter who shot just over the bar from a great turn. Minutes later roles were reversed as Mountney ran through the visitors defence before he found Shanahan but his effort was well blocked by Conor Kenna.
Dundalk’s spell of pressure was not successful and the Saints took control of the game once more in the final stages. Dundalk weren’t able to create much and as they tried to push forward for a goal, the Saints sealed victory with a 3rd goal on 85 minutes.
As Fagan chased, Cherrie could only head away a long ball down the middle from the visitors defence and it found O’Connor who easily stroked home to an empty net from 30 yards. O’Brien had a late shot for the Saints however it was easily saved by Cherrie.
That would prove to be the last action as referee Alan Kelly’s final whistle was greeted with an almighty cheer from the visiting Saints supporters as they march on to their first FAI Cup final in six years.
Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; John Mountney, Liam Burns, Derek Foran, Eoghan Osbourne; Paul Walsh (Lorcan Shannon 74), Chris Shields, Mark O’Brien, Gary Shanahan (Stephen McDonnell 77); Michael Rafter (Bob McKenna 85), Barry Conlon.
Subs not used: Peter Thomas, Nathan Murphy, William Woods, Conor McDonald.
Booked: Osbourne (66).
St. Patrick’s Athletic: Barry Murphy; Ger O’Brien, Kenny Browne, Conor Kenna, Ian Bermingham; Sean O'Connor, Chris Forrester (John Russell 66), James Chambers (Greg Bolger 40), Jake Carroll, Jake Kelly; Christy Fagan.
Subs not used: Brendan Clarke, Aidan Price, Pat Flynn, Anto Flood, Vinny Faherty.
Booked: Carroll (44).
Referee: Alan Kelly.
Extratime.ie man of the match: Sean O’Connor (St Patrick's Ath).