Andrew Dempsey reports from Dalymount Park
Shamrock Rovers have secured their place in the FAI Cup Final for the first time since 2010 thanks to a 2-0 win away to bitter rivals Bohemians.
Graham Burke opened the scoring with an early headed effort, before Aaron Greene made sure of the win late on with a deft finish at the back post.
The Gypsies opted to make four changes from their most recent scoreless draw away to Derry City – with Keith Buckley, Ryan Graydon, Danny Mandroiu and Derek Pender all returning to the fold.
The Hoops made one alteration themselves after Monday’s defeat away to Dundalk at Oriel Park, with former Republic of Ireland international replacing former Northern Irish international Daniel Lafferty.
Searching for their first win at the spiritual home of Irish football since May 2017 – Shamrock Rovers started well – forcing a routine save at the near post by James Talbot after some direct play on the flanks.
However, after just five minutes, the visitors took an early lead that their attacking prowess merited from a Graham Burke header.
The Preston North End loanee got on the end of a sumptuous Jack Byrne delivery at the near post to head home past Talbot – his second in two games against their arch-rivals.
While there could be no questions about the merits of the 26 year old’s header, replays showed that Greene happened to touch the ball last before it went out of play – which increased the ire of the Bohemians backroom team.
The hosts reacted well to their early setback, playing their way back into the game with some crisp passing in the middle of the park – as Andre Wright saw his wayward header go wide from a Ryan Graydon cross.
Bohemians grew further into the game and posed a real threat on the right flank through Graydon – who was troubling Sean Kavanagh – as the 20 year old cut inside the penalty area to shoot straight at a grateful Alan Mannus.
Keith Long’s side continued to ratchet up the pressure on their visitors, with referee Rob Hennessy coming in for plenty of heat from the home crowd after turning away appeals for a penalty on the half-hour mark.
With the half petering out, Irish international Byrne saw his effort on goal saved by Talbot as the hosts went in behind at the back despite dominating much of the ball and territory after Burke’s opener.
While the noise in the opening stages of the second period was deafening, the game took its time in coming back into life – with the home crowd growing increasingly restless with referee Hennessy.
Livewire Danny Grant soon took a firm grip on the game, causing no end of issues for Joey O’Brien and Finn on the right hand side of the pitch but he was unable to sufficiently threaten the Hoops rear-guard.
While Rovers rarely threatened after they scored, they ought to have put the game to bed with just over twenty minutes to play.
Byrne fed in the returning Burke, who then dinked the ball over Talbot, but full-back Paddy Kirk was on hand to clear off the line to prevent Stephen Bradley’s side from taking an unassailable two-nil lead.
Chaos then ensued from a Byrne corner, with Lee Grace getting the final touch on a few seconds of pinball in the Bohemians six-yard box as the hosts survived once more.
As the game slipped away from the hosts – they were dealt a fatal blow when their creative spark Mandroiu was dismissed with a straight red card for what looked like a reckless challenge on Kavanagh.
Rovers then made it two with ten minutes of normal time to play – with Greene turning home at the back post from captain Finn’s cross on the right.
And that, coupled with a few minutes of mayhem in the stands, was that, as the Gypsies fell out of the FAI Cup at the semi-final stage for the second year on the spin with the visitors thoroughly deserving their win.
Bohemians: James Talbot; Rob Cornwall, James Finnerty, Patrick Kirk, Derek Pender; Scott Allardice (Conor Levingston, 63), Keith Buckley (Ross Tierney, 74), Daniel Mandroiu; Daniel Grant, Ryan Graydon (Keith Ward, 75), Andre Wright.
Subs not used: Michael Barker, Michael Kelly, Ryan Swan, Luke Wade-Slater.
Sent off: Daniel Mandroiu (76).
Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Lee Grace, Roberto Lopes, Joey O'Brien; Jack Byrne, Ronan Finn (Daniel Lafferty, 85), Sean Kavanagh, Aaron McEneff, Gary O'Neill; Graham Burke (Greg Bolger, 88), Aaron Greene (Graham Cummins, 90+1).
Subs not used: Neil Farrugia, Brandon Kavanagh, Leon Pohls, Dylan Watts.
Booked: Ronan Finn (29), Gary O’Neill (49), Roberto Lopes (56), Sean Kavanagh (90+3).
Sent off: None.
Referee: Robert Hennessy
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Graham Burke (Shamrock Rovers).