From Niall Newberry at Oriel Park
EA Sports Cup holders Dundalk coasted into the semi-finals of this season’s competition on Tuesday night thanks to a resounding 3-0 win over Bohemians at Oriel Park.
Two first half goals from Dylan Connolly, as well as a late strike from man of the match Jamie McGrath, who was magnificent throughout, sealed the Lilywhite’s passage into the last four.
Stephen Kenny rang the changes, with Dean Jarvis and John Mountney the only players who started in Friday night’s league defeat in Waterford to be named in the starting XI for this cup tie.
However one name that jumped off the team sheet was that of under-19 midfielder Pablo Cavalcante, who was making his first senior appearance for the Lilywhites.
Bohemians also named a youthful side with Shane Supple, Oscar Brennan and Eoghan Stokes the only surviving members from Saturday’s 2-0 win at Sligo Rovers.
Dundalk started very brightly and George Poynton – who spent last season with Bohs on loan – floated in an excellent set-piece which was headed wide by Dane Massey before Cavalcante weaved some magic on the right, crossing for Marco Tagbajumi who again headed wide for the Lilywhites.
The League Cup holders took the lead soon after that when Mountney crossed for Connolly – subject of much criticism in recent weeks – and he fired home to score a confidence boosting goal.
The hosts were truly on fire in the opening period and they looked to double their advantage with Jamie McGrath – who has picked up a winner’s medal in this competition three years running – rattling the crossbar before playing in Connolly, who added his and Dundalk’s second, rounding Supple before finishing into an empty net from a tight angle.
Marco Tagbajumi probably should have made it three but he blazed his effort over from close range before Oscar Brennan produced Bohs first effort of the night at the other end, firing an effort wide which had Dundalk goalkeeper Gabriel Sava at full stretch.
On the back of captain Stephen O’Donnell’s horrific injury in Waterford on Friday night, there were many anxious faces around Oriel Park as Mountney was forced off in place of Karl Fitzsimons who came on to make his senior debut for the club.
Fitzsimons almost scored his first goal too, blazing an effort over the bar following a beautiful lay off from Tagbajumi before Connolly also tried his luck with a decent effort just before the break.
The second period was more subdued as the home side were in cruise control throughout but they had to be alert when Stokes turned Gavin Smith before launching a shot straight at Sava – the Bohs striker then tried his luck from distance moments later but his effort fizzed well over the bar.
Dundalk looked to make the win safe but Sean Hoare’s header was straight at Supple with ten minutes to go before Sava at the other end had to tip JJ Lunney’s curling free-kick around the post.
A place in the last four was sealed late on when substitute Ronan Murray’s shot was saved by Supple before rebounding out to McGrath, who tapped home to score a deserved goal as Dundalk marched into the semi-finals.
Dundalk:Gabriel Sava; George Poynton, Gavin Smith, Stephen Folan, Dane Massey; Pablo Cavalcante (Sean Hoare 66), John Mountney (Karl Fitzsimons 37), Dean Jarvis (Ronan Murray 74), Dylan Connolly; Jamie McGrath, Marco Tagbajumi.
Subs not used:Ross Treacy, Brian Gartland, Chris Shields, Jack O’Keefe.
Bohemians:Shane Supple; Robert Manly (Promise Omochere 80), Daniel Byrne, Patrick Kirk, JJ Lunney; Andy Lyons, Oscar Brennan, Philip Gannon, Jamie Hamilton (Dylan Thornton 57); Patrick Kavanagh, Eoghan Stokes.
Subs not used:Jamie Cleary, Lee Rock, Luke Nolan, Mitchell Byrne.
Booked:Oscar Brennan (52), Philip Gannon (81).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match:Jamie McGrath (Dundalk)
All over here and Dundalk are safely through to the semi-finals of the #EASportsCup. Two first half goals from Dylan Connolly and a late Jamie McGrath strike made it a comfortable enough night for the Lilywhites. pic.twitter.com/w1rI9Tc4HA— Dundalk FC (@DundalkFC) May 8, 2018