Ford, proud sponsor of the FAI Cup, have announced that the 2006 Cup final between Derry City and St.Patrick’s Athletic has been voted by League of Ireland fans as the Greatest Ever FAI Cup Final. Irish football supporters cast their vote through Ford’s Facebook page (facebook.com/fordireland) and the 4-3 thriller, where the Candystripes emerged victorious after extra time, proved a clear winner in the poll.
The final won’t be remembered for good weather, but it will be for a game littered with excitement, passion and free flowing football. In what was the last game of football at Lansdowne Road, St. Pat’s took the lead three times before Derry battled back, equalising on each occasion.
Dave Mulcahy broke through the Derry defence after 20 minutes, dinking the ball over David Forde to open the scoring for St Pat’s. The Candystripes drew level shortly after, following a sublime pass by Paddy McCourt to set up Mark Farren who slotted home a left footed strike.
It was end-to-end action from there on in with both sides pressing forward in search of the goal that might seal the victory. In the 74th minute it looked like St.Pat’s did just that. Trevor Molloy raced on to a through ball in the Derry defence, getting a toe to it just ahead of Peter Hutton’s sliding challenge. The referee pointed to the spot and Molloy drilled it low and hard past Forde to put Pat’s within touching distance of the cup.
Derry did not lie down, however, and with five minutes to go they got their reward. After a Killian Brennan free kick was not dealt with by the Saints defence, Clive Delaney used every inch of his 6 foot 6 inch frame to get a glancing head on a second ball, sending it past Barry Ryan to bring the tie into extra time.
It was anyone’s game at this stage but St. Pat’s once again edged in front. A great run into the box and a delicate first touch by Sean O’Connor saw him smash the ball into the net with his left foot, sending the Saints supporters in to raptures.
The elation, however, didn’t last long – 3 minutes in fact. A corner by Paddy McCourt ghosted through everyone, only to find its way to the feet of Hutton who had a simple tap in at the back post.
With a renewed energy, the Candystripes pushed forward. In the 110th minute, a Killian Brennan corner glanced off the head of Saints defender Stephen Brennan, cruelly sending the ball into the St.Pat’s goal. The Saints battled bravely for an equaliser but it wasn’t to be and Derry lifted the cup for the fourth time in their history.
This year’s Ford FAI Cup Final between Sligo Rovers and Drogheda United has all the components to be equally as exciting as the 2006 finale. Drogheda will undoubtedly be looking to put right their disappoint of losing out in two cup finals already this season, while the Bit O’Red will be hoping to win the cup for the third time in four years.
Tickets for the Final on Sunday November 3rd at the Aviva Stadium are available from the competing clubs and ticketmaster.ie and are priced at €10 for adults and €5 for children.