Dundalk irate over dismissals as they’re dismissed

Drogheda knock out nine-man Dundalk to reach FAI final


DROGHEDA UNITED 1 DUNDALK 0: What with the home side set to dispense with a manager most agree has done a good job and the visitors trying to get on track after the collapse of their title challenge there was always going to be a story at United Park but who would have anticipated referee Anthony Buttimer stealing the headlines?

The Corkman’s sending off of two Dundalk players in three first-half minutes effectively decided things in the home side’s favour.

Darren Meenan was sent packing 28 minutes in for what, despite the protestations of his manager and team- mates, did look a reckless challenge on Paul O’Conor.

Buttimer might have been expected to be just a little reluctant to show red again but barely three minutes later he did so after David Cassidy fed Declan O’Brien and the striker went down after being challenged by Chris Shields.

Good contact
The midfielder actually made a good contact with the ball so it didn’t even look like a penalty but Buttimer gave one. But a far bigger shock was the second straight red.

“The referee’s had five minutes of madness and killed the game,” was how Shields saw it afterwards.

Gavin Brennan’s conversion of the spot kick meant Dundalk would have to chase an equaliser playing with just nine men. To their credit, they did so with composure and spirit but while they had one or two chances late on, they might as easily have conceded again through the closing minutes .

The dismissals cast a long shadow, with tempers frayed at half-time and two members of Dundalk’s coaching staff were sent to the stand for refusing to walk away from the match official, and afterwards when manager Stephen Kenny could barely contain his frustration.

“I think the reality is that we’re out now,” he acknowledged well into a scathing post match assessment. “There’s nothing we can do about it,” he said. “There’s no recourse. Our players are suspended, and for what? I think it’s a bad day for us; it gave us no chance and the FAI need to have a look at that . . . Fran Gavin needs to have a look at why, when we have that standard of play and that standard of players, are we tolerating that (standard of refereeing)?”

Hard done by
Few present – from either camp – would disagree that Shields had been very hard done by. To Mick Cooke, though, it was just one of those things with the United boss observing he had “lost plenty of semi-finals (and) you just wish all your conquerors all the best in the final”.

“With Dundalk having so many big players you feel all they need is a set-piece and they proved that just before half-time when (John) Sullivan got a header and Micheál (Schlingermann) pulled off a great save.

“As the second half wore on, we got more nervous. We were worrying about them rather than concentrating on what we should have been doing, getting the second goal.

“Okay, (Peter) Cherrie pulled off a couple of good saves but we didn’t really create anything in the last third. I felt we got very nervous. We were concentrating more on stopping them getting forward than us penetrating them.”

They did enough in the end to make it through, though, and, after their previous two finals this season, might be relieved to findit is Sligo rather than Shamrock Rovers they will face in early November.
DROGHEDA UNITED: Schlingermaann; Daly, McNally, Prendergast, Grimes; O’Conor (Hynes, 61 mins) , Byrne, R Brennan, G Brennan; Cassidy; O’Brien.
DUNDALK: Cherrie; Sullivan (Faherty, 75 mins), Gartland, Boyle, Massey; Shields; Meenan, Towell, O’Donnell, Byrne (Mulvenna, 65 mins); Hoban (Mountney, 37 mins).
Referee: A Buttimer (Cork)