Dundalk break Shamrock Rovers hearts in extra-time
Steven Kenny’s side set up another FAI Cup final date with Cork City after replay win
Dundalk celebrate Robbie Benson’s goal during their 4-2 extra-time win over Shamrock Rovers. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho
Goals in extra-time from in-form David McMillan and captain Stephen O’Donnell booked Dundalk’s passage through to the FAI Cup final after a fractious replay at Tallaght Stadium.
Stephen Kenny’s side thus meet holders Cork City for the third year in a row in the decider at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday, November 5th.
The first period of extra-time was notable for a an unseemly fracas, a bout of pushing and shoving involving both teams and benches that lasted a couple of minutes, after Dundalk’s O’Donnell and Rovers’ manager Stephen Bradley pushed each other on the sideline.
When it was calmed down Rovers’ strength and conditioning coach Darren Dillon was sent to the stands, while Dundalk’s O’Donnell and Sean Gannon were yellow-carded along with Rovers’ Trevor Clarke.
The deciding drama then unfolded in the second period, McMillan pouncing on a misplaced header from Lee Grace following Shane Grimes’cross to shoot Dundalk into a 3-2 lead on 108 minutes.
O’Donnell then sealed it four minutes later, looping a long-range header from Sean Hoare free-kick to the far corner of the net.
Dundalk were at it from the off, giving Rovers’ defence a bout of the jitters inside 90 seconds.
Jamie McGrath got to the end line from a throw on the right to pull the ball back for Dylan Connolly whose low drive was parried by Tomer Chencinski before being scrambled clear.
The home side had further frantic defending to do three minutes later.
McMillan cleverly spun past two defenders from Robbie Benson’s pass to thread Michael Duffy in on goal. Only a timely block from Lopes deflected the winger’s shot up over the bar.
But it was Rovers who snatched the lead on 10 minutes.
Dave Webster’s deep free kick from the halfway line wasn’t cleared with the ball dropping invitingly for Rovers skipper Ronan Finn who found the corner with a crisp right-foot volley.
Aggrieved at the awarding of the free kick against them, Dundalk responded in perfect fashion, punishing a mistake to level three minutes later.
Chencinski completely misjudged Gannon’s cross from the right as McMillan stole in behind him at the back post to head home.
Much of Rovers’ best work was coming down the right through the pace and guile of Clarke. And the 19-year-old should have restored their lead on 26 minutes. But, having tricked his way in behind Niclas Vemmelund onto Lopes’s pass, he blazed over the top.
After a less frenetic start to the first, the second half came to life nine minutes in when Dundalk regained the lead.
Again Rovers didn’t deal with a delivery into their area, this time a Duffy corner. Hoare out-jumped the home defence to head the ball down for Benson to tap it over the line.
Chencinski was then worked twice in quick succession, first batting away an angled cross from Duffy. Connolly retrieved the ball to cross for McMillan who again brought a save from the keeper with a diving header.
Rovers worked hard to get back into it and got their reward on 85 minutes from Gary Shaw’s tireless running.
The striker retrieved something of a lost cause on the left to find Clarke whose superb cross was powerfully headed home by substitute and former Dundalk striker Michael O’Connor to force extra-time.
Shamrock Rovers: Chencinski; Madden, Webster, Grace, Byrne (King, 73); Lopes (O’Connor, 81); T Clarke, Connolly (Doona, 60), Finn, Miele; Shaw.
Dundalk: Rogers; Gannon, Gartland, Hoare, Vemmelund (Grimes, h-t); O’Donnell, Benson; Connolly (Stewart, 70), McGrath, Duffy (Shields, 107); McMillan.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin (Donegal)