Dylan O’Connell reports from St Colman’s Park
Georgie Kelly’s second half header was the difference, as defending champions Dundalk overcame Cobh Ramblers 1-0 at St. Colman’s Park.
Less than 12 months after Christopher Hull gave Cobh a 1-0 win against the Lilywhites, and 38 years since the Ramblers saw past Dundalk in their run to the cup semi-finals in 1983, an inspired Cobh Ramblers dug deep as they pushed the defending FAI Cup holders in a balanced cup tie at East Cork.
Pragmatic from the whistle, Cobh withstood pressure from the whistle, soaking up early attempts by Georgie Kelly and Patrick McEleney.
This was the play for much of Dundalk’s play through the first half. Georgie Kelly once more stayed by Ben O’Riordan as he attempted to play it across goal. McEleney caught in the centre and in the clamour between the defence, Bryan Murphy rose to clear it away.
The Ramblers rode their luck in parts. Sean Hoare saw a half-volley come off the underside of the bar and bob onto the line.
Next, it was the brilliance of Paul Hunt which kept it scoreless, as the Ramblers legend clawed away a curled effort from Georgie Kelly.
Cobh were patient against this pressure. Sitting back and absorbing the pressure, loose balls and long shots where their main attacking threat as both Ian Turner and Charlie Fleming were left frustrated.
As Cobh did push forward, a Dundalk defence captained by Brian Gartland where rigid, allowing nothing overly threatening from as halftime loomed.
In the second half, Dundalk rotated with the introduction of Sean Gannon, Sean Murray and Michael Duffy.
It was an injection of further quality against a retreating Ramblers line, and out of the pressure Dundalk almost instantly went ahead.
A swinging a cross in from Gannon; nearly reminiscent of his assist in last year’s final, was almost turned in by Charlie Fleming as Dundalk almost went ahead.
Cobh’s resistance finally broke on the 67th seventh minute, after Georgie Kelly knocked in a near perfect cross in from Sean Gannon.
As the game ticked on, Dundalk further challenged through Sean Murray and Daniel Cleary, with the awareness of Paul Hunt guiding Ramblers to the final whistle.
Cobh Ramblers: Paul Hunt, Kevin Taylor, Charlie Fleming, Ben O’Riordan, Dave Hurley, Ian Turner, Cameron Harlson (Andrew Cronin 74), Charlie Lyons, Stephen O’Leary, Bryan Murphy (Cian Leonard 67’, Greg Henry.
Subs not used: Adam Mylod (GK), Mickey Foley, Stephen O’Connor, Matt Lambe, Jamie O’Sullivan.
Booking: Charlie Fleming (Yellow Card) Charlie Lyons (Yellow Card)
Dundalk: Aaron McCarey, Brain Gartland, Sean Hoare, John Mountney (Sean Murray 75’), Patrick McEleney, Georgie Kelly, Cameron Dummigan, Daniel Cleary, Daniel Kelly, Lido Lofeta (Michael Duffy 58’), James Carroll (Sean Gannon 50’).
Subs not used: Gary Rogers (GK), Chris Shields, Patrick Hoban, Dane Massey.
Referee: Raymond Matthews.
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Ben O’Riordan (Cobh Ramblers).