Shields seals the deal for Dundalk
Setanta Cup final beckons for Oriel Park side after defeat of Shamrock Rovers
Dundalk 1 Shamrock Rovers 0
(Dundalk win 3-1 on aggregate)
Chris Shields’s well hit volley was enough to secure Dundalk their place in the Setanta Cup final thanks to a 3-1 aggregate win over Shamrock Rovers.
Holding a 2-1 lead from the first-leg, Stephen Kenny’s side got the all important goal at Oriel Park two minutes into the second-half when Shields connected with a Ruaidhri Higgins free-kick to set up a final showdown with Sligo Rovers.
There was little to choose between the sides in a goalless first-half. Rovers, needing to win by two clear goals to advance, started on the front foot and had a couple of sightings of goal without alarming Peter Cherrie.
It was Dundalk who had the better of the chances. Daryl Horgan let rip with a powerful effort that went wide of the mark after 10 minutes before Ruaidhri Higgins managed to jink his way past a couple of challenges on the edge of the box only to shoot straight at Craig Hyland.
The Rovers goalkeeper was called into action again in the 22nd minute. The lively Horgan nicked the ball away from Robert Cornwall just past halfway before playing Richie Towell in on the right of the penalty area. Towell’s shot was headed for the top corner but Hyland produced a fine stop.
Rovers enjoyed a spell of sustained pressure just past the half-hour mark and Mark Rossiter had to make a vital intervention to stop Eamon Zayed from getting on to a Karl Sheppard knock down.
The Hoops’ best effort of the half came four minutes before the break. Ronan Finn’s effort skidded off Zayed and looked to be heading into Cherrie’s net but he threw himself to his right to turn it away for a corner.
The second-half was in its infancy when the home team went two goals ahead on aggregate. Higgins’s deep free-kick to the back post was met by Shields and his excellent finish beat Hyland to leave Rovers with an uphill task.
It almost became mission impossible for Trevor Croly’s side nine minutes later. David McMillan set up John Mountney for a strike but his shot was brilliantly tipped wide by Hyland.
Karl Sheppard should have reduced the deficit but he blazed over with a glorious opportunity from close range in the 63rd minute after the ball had bounced around the Dundalk penalty area.
DUNDALK: Cherrie; Gannon, Boyle, Rossiter, Massey; Shields, Higgins; Mountney, Towell (O’Donnell 88), Horgan (Meenan 77); McMillan (Hoban 70).
SHAMROCK ROVERS: Hyland; Cornwall, Heaney (Kehoe 76), Kenna, Byrne; Finn (Kilduff 76), Robinson, Bayly, Waters (Brennan 69); Zayed, Sheppard.
Referee: Raymond Crangle.