Dylan O'Connell reports from St Colman's Park
Goals from Dane Massey and David McMillan were enough for Dundalk to beat Cobh Ramblers in the Extra.ie FAI Cup second round on Sunday afternoon.
St. Colman’s Park hosted this highly physical cup clash, which saw the Lilywhites progress to the quarter finals for the tenth consecutive season.
Cobh arrived looking for their first FAI Cup win in four years. The last time they tasted success came in the 2016 competition when they defeated Cherry Orchard and Ringmahon Rangers to reach the quarter finals.
Since then they have lost to Limerick and Dundalk in 2018 and 2019.
Despite their cup misery, the Ramblers were clearly taking inspiration from their 2018 EA Sports Cup semi-final against the Lilywhites.
That day in front of a pack St. Coleman’s Park, Christopher Hull scored to send Cobh through to their very first national cup final, at the expense of Dundalk.
The Lilywhites arrived in east Cork looking for only their second win since the League of Ireland re-start.
While they have laboured in the league by drawing two and losing two, Dundalk beat Waterford 1-0 in the first round of the FAI Cup at Oriel Park.
Results almost seemed secondary over the last seven days for Dundalk due to the managerial changes in the club.
Over the last week they lost talismanic manager Vinny Perth and local legend John Gill, with former AC Milan summer camps coach Filippo Giovagnoli brought in to fill the managerial void until the end of the season.
All the worries faded away as soon as referee Alan Patchell blew his whistle. The Lilywhites cruised for much of the first half, commanding possession and the pace of the game.
Michael Duffy was excellent in the opening 15 minutes, with his neat footwork constantly dazzling the Cobh back four and playing himself into space.
He was rewarded for his abilities midway through the half when he picked out Massey on the overlap.
After being played through Massey powered a ball off the underside of the crossbar and gave Dundalk a 1-0 lead.
While the story of the half belongs to the Lilywhites, Cobh were not without their merits. Goalkeeper Sean Barron, who impressed in victories over Longford and Wexford for the Ramblers, was constantly catching whatever balls Duffy and Stefan Colovic put in.
The former Avondale United shop stopper seriously impressed with a low save to deny McMillan who was running at goal.
At the other end, David Hurley had an inch perfect precision on set pieces. He was almost rewarded on the half hour mark as a free-kick found the head of Ben O’Riordan. The defender turned the ball at goal, and an unsuspecting Gary Rodgers had to spring at the last second to save his side.
Dundlak started the second half drilled into their positions. Not even two minutes were gone and they were handed an excellent chance when McMillan bullied his way in to face Barron.
The former St. Johnstone striker fired across goal and Barron caught excellently.
Cobh’s biggest attacking threat in the second half came through set pieces from Hurley.
Time and time again the midfielder placed balls with exact precision. Darragh Crowley, who is on loan from Cork City, got on the end of one of these balls but his shot went straight into the side netting.
Dundalk rotated their team in the second half by introducing Daniel Kelly, John Mountney, and Jordan Flores.
Kelly almost had an immediate impact through his first touch of the ball as he curled an inviting cross across the box, which whizzed past Mountney and missed the foot of Duffy by millimetres.
Despite the neat play and their dominance of the possession, Dundalk’s second came from the penalty spot.
Kelly won the spot kick for the Lilywhites after he was taken down inside the area and McMillan converted with a neat finish into the lower left-hand corner.
The game closed out with a flurry of half chances for the Ramblers. Substitute Cameron Harlson did well with the space he was given but each time he looked to have squeezed free, Brian Gartland was there to muscle in and win back possession.
Cobh Ramblers: Sean Barron, John Kavanagh, Daryl Walsh (Stephen O’Leary 56), Ben O’Riordan, Charlie Lyons, Ian Turner (Bryan Murphy 85), David Hurley, Lee Devitt, Marin Coughlan (Greg Henry 56’), Conor Drinan (Naythan Coleman 85), Darragh Crowley (Cameron Harlson 64).
Subs not used: Gavin Ryan, Mikey Foley.
Bookings: Lee Devitt (70), Greg Henry (71).
Dundalk: Gary Rodgers, Brain Gartland, Sean Hoare, Chris Shields, Michael Duffy (Sean Gannon 78), David McMillan, Dane Massey, Sean Murray (Daniel Kelly 68’), Will Patching (Jordan Flores 54), Stefan Colovic (John Mountney 68), Andy Boyle.
Subs not used: Darragh Leahy, Aaron McCarey, Nathan Oduwa.
Referee: Alan Patchell.
Extratime.com Player of the Match: Dane Massey (Dundalk).