Tolka Park witnessed a battle between two teams desperate to end their seasons in a showpiece final in the Aviva Stadium. It was the team from Derry that emerged victorious as they scored three goals and booked a place in the FAI Cup Final against St. Patrick’s Athletic.
Derry City started brightly putting some dangerous crosses into the Shels box in the first ten minutes. However, the Drumcondra side had a sight of goal on 11 minutes as Philly Hughes looked like he had the beating of his man. The lineman signalled for offside before he got a chance to take a shot on goal and the Derry men breathed a sigh of relief.
Derry had control of possession in the early stages of the game but in the form of Philly Hughes, Shelbourne had an outlet. A long punt from defence on 17 minutes found him again in a dangerous position. He put in a teasing cross but the Derry defence cleared their lines.
Shels again fashioned a chance on 22 minutes and Hughes was central again. His cross found Paddy Kavanagh in the box. He cut inside and squared the ball to Kevin Dawson. His poked effort brought the Tolka Park faithful to its feet, but it went agonisingly wide.
Shelbourne seemed dangerous, particularly with some of the excellent crosses they were producing, and on 30 minutes there were almost in again. Firstly, David Cassidy’s corner forced Ger Doherty into a save as it almost found the net directly. Another corner followed and Cassidy again provided the ammunition. Stephen Paisley powered a header towards goal but another excellent save from Doherty kept the game level.
The chances kept coming for Shels and four minutes after their last chance they almost opened the scoring. Kevin Dawson who had sight of goal earlier in the match, beat the keeper with his shot but the post came to the rescue of the Candystripes.
Derry tested Chris Bennion in the Shels goal on 36 minutes for the first time in the game when Patrick McEleney’s shot had to be touched around the post. McEleney beat Bennion four minutes later, but his shot crashed of the crossbar as the game was really developing into an exciting spectacle.
Shels then went straight down the other end, with Paddy Kavanagh beating a number of players before shooting just over the cross bar from 20 yards. There was still further drama to come in the first half as Derry gained the lead with the last action of the half.
Simon Madden crossed into the box from the right and his cross was dispatched by Stephen McLaughlin. As the dejected Shelbourne players trooped off at half-time, one had to wonder how costly the chances they missed earlier in the first-half would be.
Shelbourne needed to regain momentum at the start of the second half and in the opening exchanges they certainly gained the majority of possession, as Derry seemed content to try and hit Shels on the break.
Despite the bright start from the Reds, it was Derry who struck again on 62 minutes. The Derry goal came from the same source as Stephen McLaughlin scored a wonder goal. He received the ball on the right wing before cutting inside and unleashing an unstoppable left footed shot into the top corner from outside the box.
Further disaster followed for the home team four minutes later, as a long ball from Barry Molloy found David McDaid who rounded the keeper and put Derry three nil up and practically booked their place in the cup final.
Shels continued to push forward but in truth the third goal for Derry seemed to suck all the life out of the game as Shelbourne struggled to find the goal that might bring them back into the contest. Derry almost made it four with three minutes remaining in the game. Substitute Ruaidhri Higgins found himself free in the box, but his shot sailed just over the crossbar.
This was the last significant action of the game as the Candystripe’s progressed to their first FAI Cup Final since 2008, while Shelbourne failed in their attempt to make it to two finals in a row.
Shelbourne: Chris Bennion; Ian Ryan, Andy Boyle, Stephen Paisley, Sean Byrne; Paddy Kavanagh, David Cassidy (Conan Byrne, 83), Glenn Cronin, Kevin Dawson; Philip Hughes, Paul Byrne (Philip Gorman, 67).
Subs not used: Paul Skinner (GK), Stephen Hurley, Brian Shorthall, Barry Clancy, Anto Murphy.
Bookings: Paisley (54), Kavanagh (85).
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Simon Madden, Shane McEleney, Stewart Greacen, Dermot McCaffrey; Patrick McEleney, Barry Molloy, Kevin Deery (Mark Brolly, 86), Barry McNamee (Ruaidhri Higgins, 68), Stephen McLaughlin; David McDaid.
Subs not used: Eugene Ferry (GK), Rory Patterson, Ryan McBride, Mark Farren, Ryan Curran.
Bookings: Deery (65).
Referee: Anthony Buttimer.
Extratime.ie man of the match: Stephen McLaughlin (Derry City).