Niall Newberry reports from Oriel Park
Dundalk steamrolled into a third EA Sports Cup final in six years thanks to a 6-1 semi-final win over Bohemians.
Patrick Hoban’s hat-trick inside the first 14 minutes set the tone for what was an easy passage into the final for Vinny Perth’s side, for whom Patrick McEleney and Daniel Kelly also got on the scoresheet.
Both teams were in fine goalscoring form in the league just three days earlier as Dundalk thumped Finn Harps 5-0, while Bohemians recorded a club-record 10-1 win over bottom-of-the-table UCD.
Dundalk made seven changes from that win as Aaron McCarey was handed a rare outing in goal.
Meanwhile, Sean Gannon, Daniel Cleary, Andy Boyle, John Mountney, Jamie McGrath and Hoban, all of whom were rested against Harps, returned to what was a very strong-looking Dundalk line-up.
Bohs went one better, making no fewer than eight changes, but they perhaps paid the price for that.
The Lilywhites, sporting a purple kit in aid of Temple Street Children’s Hospital, took the lead on four minutes when Michael Duffy’s through ball found Hoban, who expertly slotted past Michael Kelly.
In what was a truly electrifying start to this EA Sports Cup semi-final at Oriel, Hoban got his and Dundalk’s second just five minutes after that when he turned home following a Duffy corner.
The Galway man, who has come in for some criticism in recent weeks, went some way to silencing his doubters by completing a 14-minute hat-trick, heading home from a superb cross by Cleary.
With Bohs and Keith Long well and truly shell-shocked, Hoban went close to grabbing a fourth when Mountney pulled the ball back for him, but defender Michael Barker did well to block the effort.
The game wasn’t much of a contest after that and indeed the atmosphere suffered as a result with Aaron Barry’s header, which went wide, only making this report merely in the interests of balance.
Three minutes before half-time, Dundalk well and truly killed this game off once and for all as McEleney worked a bit of magic before neatly rolling the ball past debutant Michael Kelly.
The second half was only six minutes old when Dundalk grabbed their fifth. Michael Kelly had saved well from McGrath’s shot, but Hoban was on hand to score his fourth of the night from the rebound.
In doing so, he became the first player to score four in a single game for Dundalk since Ciaran Kilduff did the same against Kilkenny-based outfit Thomastown United in a Leinster Senior Cup tie in 2016.
Bohs at least added some respectability to the result on 62 minutes when Ross Tierney got his second goal in as many games, firing home after Daniel Mandriou had floated in a free-kick.
That didn’t inspire a comeback though and Dundalk made it six in the 71st when the superb McGrath made a bursting run before putting the ball on a plate for substitute Daniel Kelly, who finished well.
Bohs ‘keeper Michael Kelly would have felt hard done by in this match, for he wasn’t really at fault for any of the goals and made a couple of excellent saves from Georgie Kelly in the closing stages.
Much to Bohs’ relief, the game ended as Dundalk made a date with Derry City for September 14th’s final.
Dundalk: Aaron McCarey; Sean Gannon, Daniel Cleary, Andy Boyle, Dane Massey; Chris Shields, Patrick McEleney (Daniel Kelly 52); John Mountney, Jamie McGrath, Michael Duffy (Sean Murray 57); Patrick Hoban (Georgie Kelly 75).
Subs not used: Gary Rogers, Brian Gartland, Sean Hoare, Dean Jarvis.
Booked: Daniel Cleary (66).
Bohemians: Michael Kelly; Derek Pender, Michael Barker, Aaron Barry, Patrick Kirk; Keith Buckley (Robbie McCourt 64), Ross Tierney; Daniel Mandroiu, Keith Ward (Scott Allardice 55), Kevin Devaney (Andre Wright 46); Ryan Swan.
Subs not used: Sean Bohan, Andy Lyons, Conor Levingston, Daniel Grant.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin.
Attendance: 1,500 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Patrick Hoban (Dundalk).