Holders Dundalk FC will meet UCD in the last-eight of the Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup following their 5-0 win over Leinster Senior League side, Crumlin United at Oriel Park this evening.
First-half goals from Chris Shields, Paddy Barrett, and Dean Shiels had the Lilywhites leading three nil at the interval having overwhelmed Crumlin for the entirety of a completely one-sided first-half.
A Michael O’Connor header and another effort from Shields complemented Dundalk’s earlier strikes as the Lilywhites sauntered towards the next round, with their attentions now turning to Bohemians on Friday night.
Dean Shiels and Alan Keane, both recent additions to Dundalk’s star-studded squad, were given their full debuts by manager Stephen Kenny as the Lilywhites fielded a strong XI featuring three survivors from the line-up that faced Legia Warsaw one week earlier.
The Lilywhites line-up also featured five academy graduates with Shane Grimes, Georgie Poynton and Carlton Ubaezuono featuring alongside the O’Connor brothers, Ciaran and Michael.
Crumlin, fresh from their 3-0 victory over Firhouse Clover in their opening league game on Saturday, acted as the home team for the game having been drawn out of the hat first.
However, they certainly didn’t look at home in the opening half, they failed to get a single shot off on Gabriel Sava’s goal, while being heavily outplayed with Dundalk’s one-touch play and movement baffling a beleaguered looking Crumlin midfield.
The game was simply being played on the terms of Robbie Benson in midfield – the midfield maestro looked as if he was in first gear strolling about Xaviesque, finding pockets of space to exploit Crumlin’s stand-offish midfield approach. The part-timers watched him in awe throughout.
Dundalk took the lead on eight minutes. Chris Shields scored his first goal of the season, and what a strike it was. Again, it was Benson’s awareness that allowed Shields to come onto a Ciaran O’Connor pass from the right, and the former Bray man shot with aplomb, left footed to the top-right corner. O’Connor though also deserves credit having bamboozled Crumlin left-full, Ian Coone, before picking-out Shields.
Dundalk continued to harass the Dubliners. Although, Dean Shiels wasn’t reaching his pre-match billing – which must be said wasn’t entirely his fault as Benson hogged the show, and the ball.
Carlton Ubaezuono was illustrating why many feel that he deserves more first-team chances. His pace, physique and drive puts you in mind of Crystal Palace winger, Wilfried Zaha. He is certainly one to watch.
The Lilywhites’ lead was doubled moments later with another sublime goal that the Leinster Senior League side could’ve done nothing to prevent. Paddy Barrett doesn’t do average goals, his tend to be special and his 25th minute strike was no different. The centre-half somehow found himself lurking in the opposition penalty area and after making a disguised dart from left-to-right, the Waterford native smashed in off the post after Benson found him with a pass that didn’t even seem plausible with the 18-yard area so well body-guarded.
The closest the visitors came to hitting the net, was their own net. Ubaezuono’s harmless cross into the area was horribly sliced by Crumlin’s Ciaran Kenna, and it was only by the grace of God that it didn’t find the net. It shaved the post, and from the resulting corner, Barrett’s header skimmed the bar.
Dean Shiels made it 3-0 moments before half-time. Another flowing Dundalk move resulted in Ciaran O’Connor prudently allowing the ball to run into the path of the Northern Ireland international whose daisy-cutter found the bottom right-corner.
Unfortunately for the Crumlin Boys, they were out of their depth and only for referee, Rob Rogers’ leniency, they could’ve conceded penalties in an opening half monopolised by Benson and Dundalk.
The early second-half exchanges were timid to say the least. Martin Loughran’s side ventured deep into Dundalk’s half without really threatening to score. Their positive approach was encouraging and a more competitive half ensued with Dundalk seemingly letting their unique levels of intensity fluctuate.
Although, Benson hobbled off, being replaced by Brian Gartland – a firm fan favourite returning from injury – It was Ubaezuono who was stealing the show. The South African born flanker’s mesmerising footwork left Carl Forsyth, Noel Murray and the rest of their Crumlin comrades to decipher how he was capable of producing such wizardry.
Michael O’Connor got his name on the score sheet 74 minutes into proceedings. Alan Keane crossed for O’Connor, and although he was free, the quality of his goal was sublime. His deft header was acutely accurate with the ball eventually looping into the net with Crumlin ‘keeper Stephen Conlon left rooted to the centre of his goal.
Chris Shields made it five on 79 minutes. It was his second left-footed pile-driver of the night as the Oriel Park roof was raised once more.
Crumlin broke away as the game headed towards it conclusion. Substitute, Daniel McGuinness raced clear, however, Gartland and Barrett soon caught up with the hesitating forward and the dream of a consolation goal at the home of the champions was slashed.
Chances continued to present themselves for the Lilywhites. The game though drifted innocuously towards its inevitable conclusion.
Dundalk FC: Gabriel Sava; Georgie Poynton, Paddy Barrett, Alan Keane, Shane Grimes; Chris Shields, Robbie Benson (Brian Gartland 58), Michael O’Connor, Dean Shiels (Sean Gannon 85), Carlton Ubaezuono; Ciaran O’Connor (Keith Dalton 70).
Subs not used: Gary Rogers, Stephen O’Donnell, Patrick McEleney, John Mountney.
Crumlin United: Stephen Conlon; Carl Forsyth, Noel Murray, Ciaran Kenna (Stephen Kelly 71), Ian Coone; Brian Mooney, Luke Kelly, Daniel Kelly (Daniel McGuinness 58), Conor Murphy, Alan McGreal; Dean Hurley (Noel Cummins 86).
Subs not used: David Meehan, Sean Burke, Daniel Coughlan.
Referee: Robert Rogers.
Attendance: 800 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Robbie Benson (Dundalk FC).