A side footed effort from Richie Towell in the opening exchanges of the second half of extratime saw Dundalk seal their 10th FAI Cup at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
After a cagey 90 minutes which at times lacked attacking quality was followed by two exciting periods of extratime where both sides were put under pressure by high balls into the box.
Attacking the south end of the ground it was the Lilywhites who started the brighter. After five minutes of play a strong Andy Boyle challenge on Gary Buckley allowed Dundalk to regain possession, before finding Ronan Finn on the left hand-side of the penalty area, however his effort curled just wide of Mark McNulty’s post.
Moments later there was another scare for Cork, as Dane Massey’s set-piece found Brian Gartland at the back stick, however, under pressure from Darren Dennehy the colossal centre half lost his balance and headed comfortably wide.
As the half reached 15 minutes City began to grow into the final. Crosses from both flanks tested Gary Rogers and his back four, while the Rebels general play was also improving.
Dundalk seemed a little bit eager to press forward. Goalkeeper Gary Rogers claimed a Massey cross under pressure, before electing to throw the ball out quickly to the left flank, however, Billy Dennehy got onto the loose ball and launched the ball towards goal. However, after regaining their composure Dundalk were able to clear.
Rogers was guilty of a similar action a couple of minutes later, as he raced outside his area to clear a ball, his clearance skimmed the head of Karl Sheppard, before falling at the feet of Buckley, whose 40 yard effort went three yards wide of the Lilywhites’ goal.
Stephen Kenny’s Dundalk have been renowned for their free flowing, passing style of football since the Dubliner’s appointment in 2012.
However, on 32 minutes the Lilywhites weren’t afraid to show those inside the Aviva Stadium that they could mix it up. Richie Towell sent a floating ball back into the box following a Cork clearance, Andy Boyle rose highest to meet the ball, but his looping header found its way over the Cork City cross-bar.
Moments later, City had a chance of their own, as net-minder McNulty distributed the ball down the right to Billy Dennehy, who found Kevin O’Connor, he took up a central position 25 yards out from goal, but he dragged his effort a safe distance wide of the Dundalk goal.
Dundalk made an electric start to the second half. Massey found space and sprinted down the left, before playing a ball into McMillan, but his powerful effort was superbly turned over by the reliable McNulty.
John Caulfield’s side also looked a threat at the start of the second period. Buckley jinked his way through a couple of Dundalk bodies, before seeing a shot blocked, the ball came back to him, but the second effort curled narrowly wide the far post.
A move across the water for Daryl Horgan has been touted in the last couple of weeks. It took the Galwegian a while to get going on Sunday night. But in 66 minutes he lit up the game with an electrifying run down the left, before firing low at McNulty, who once again gathered with composure.
About five minutes later there was a chance for Dundalk substitute Ciaran Kilduff, but the striker could only head Massey’s cross over the crossbar.
In the final stages of normal time, Horgan’s cross was knocked down to Towell by Kilduff, but the goal scorer’s effort was weak and was easily cleared by the City defence.
As extratime begun, midfield general Finn drifted out to the left, before driving inside with great power, unfortunately though his side footed effort was easily claimed by McNulty.
Oh please don’t sell my towel, my Richie, Richie Towell has become an anthem at Oriel Park over the last three years and that song was done ultimate justice two minutes into the second installment of extratime, as he slotted the ball beyond McNulty to send the Dundalk fans into rapture after a great run and pass by fellow midfielder Horgan.
After 107 minutes without a goal, we nearly had two in the space of five or so minutes, as Darren Dennehy tried to head home after a lapse by Dundalk. However, his header bounced off the top of the cross-bar and to safety.
Gary Buckley had the last chance to equalise and send the final to penalties, but he fired well wide after a Colin Healy free kick broke to him six yards out from goal.
Cork City: Mark McNulty; John Dunleavy, Darren Dennehy, Alan Bennett, Ross Gaynor; Liam Miller (Colin Healy 59), Gary Buckley, Kevin O’Connor; Karl Sheppard (Dan Murray 101), Mark O’Sullivan (Danny Morrissey 80), Billy Dennehy.
Subs not used: Alan Smith, Michael McSweeney, Gavan Holohan, Liam Kearney.
Yellow Cards: Miller (41), Gaynor (82).
Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon (Stephen O’Donnell 43), Andy Boyle, Brian Gartland, Dane Massey; Chris Shields, Ronan Finn, Richie Towell; Darren Meenan (John Mountney 78), David McMillan (Ciaran Kilduff 71), Daryl Horgan.
Subs Not Used: Gabriel Sava, Shane Grimes, Paddy Barrett, Kurtis Byrne.
Yellow Cards: Shields (85), Towell (109).
Referee: Dave McKeon
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Gary Buckley (Cork City).