St Pats knock out FAI Cup holders Dundalk to set up Bohs final

Matty Smith wonder strike plus efforts from Billy King and Darragh Burns secure victory

Matty Smith of St Patrick’s Athletic celebrates scoring his side’s second goal with teammates. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Matty Smith of St Patrick’s Athletic celebrates scoring his side’s second goal with teammates. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

 

St Patrick’s Athletic 3 Dundalk 1

Flying Scotsmen Billy King and Matty Smith put St Patrick’s Athletic on track to the FAI Cup final at the Aviva Stadium next month.

King punished sloppy defending to put the Inchicore side in front.

And while Patrick Hoban drew holders Dundalk level before the break, Smith produced a cracking second.

Teenager Darragh Burns then capped a man-of-the-match display with an audacious third late on.

Stephen O’Donnell’s side will meet Bohemians in an all-Dublin decider on November 28th, their first final appearance since winning the trophy for a third time in 2014.

Dundalk’s first defeat in eight games means they miss out on a record seventh final in a row and are now also unlikely to make Europe for the first time in nine years.

With the kick-off delayed several minutes due to the remnants of flares on the pitch, the game almost delivered a lightning start 21 seconds in with Dundalk’s Will Patching working Vitezslav Jaros in the St Pat’s goal.

Though St Pat’s enjoyed good possession, it was Dundalk who looked the more dangerous on the counter, the visitors wasting a glorious chance on 18 minutes.

Cameron Dummigan and Greg Sloggett combined to slip Sean Murray in on goal. And though he was clearly clipped by James Abankwah, the Dundalk wide man stayed on his feet, his honesty not being rewarded as he fired into the side netting.

St Pat’s finally troubled Dundalk for the first time through Burns on 25 minutes before punishing a mistake to snatch the lead a minute later.

Greg Sloggett’s loose pass to Dan Cleary was pounced on by the alert King. Goalkeeper Peter Cherrie compounded the error by allowing King’s drive down the middle to beat him a little too easily.

Their tails up, a sweeping move almost doubled St Pat’s lead on the half hour. Chris Forrester and King put Ian Bermingham in down the left, the skipper’s powerful shot arcing inches wide of a post.

But a mistake at the other end would allow Dundalk right back into the game on 41 minutes.

While attempting to control the ball off his chest, 17-year-old Abankwah lost possession to Patching.

He threaded a pass through for the run of bang in-form Hoban who coolly slotted the ball past Jaros for his ninth goal in as many games.

Subbing Abankwah at the break, St Pat’s brought on Jak Hickman as they switched to a flat back four and soon had much more about them going forward.

Within 12 minutes their lead was restored with a goal of real quality.

Burns played a sublime through ball for the perfectly timed run of Smith in behind Cleary who finished with stunning precision, rifling his shot into the top corner.

Dundalk struggled to muster a real chance of an equaliser until the 83rd minute when Patching struck a superb dipping volley from some 40 yards.

Jaros was equal to it, acrobatically tipping it over the top for the save of the game.

Burns then added the gloss for St Pat’s on 85 minutes, racing clear from substitute Ronan Coughlan’s pass to cheekily dink the ball over Cherrie.

St Patrick’s Athletic: Jaros; Desmond, Barrett, Abankwah (Hickman, h-t); Lennon (Benson, 6), Lewis; Burns (Griffin, 89), Forrester (McClelland, 78), Bermingham; Smith, King (Coughlan, 78).

Dundalk: Cherrie; Dummigan (Jurkovskis, 77), Boyle, Cleary, Leahy (Ben Amar, 85); Stanton, Sloggett (Kelly, 72); Murray (McMillan, 77), Patching, Duffy; Hoban.

Referee: Neil Doyle (Dublin).

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