On Sunday, Bohemians arrive at Lansdowne Road aiming to win their first FAI Cup in 13 years.
Manager Pat Fenlon led The Gypsies to glory at the RDS that day, beating Derry City on penalties after a 2-2 draw. It was also Bohs’ last appearance in the cup final.
They previously featured in three consecutive finals from 1999 to 2002 and won 2001’s showpiece with a 1-0 win over Stephen Kenny’s Longford Town.
Bohs cup run to this year’s final began in July with a 5-0 thumping over College Corinthians. Round two featured a dramatic Dublin derby against Shamrock Rovers at Dalymount Park. Roberto Lopes’ 80th minute strike cancelled out Ali Coote’s opener. Georgie Kelly and Ronan Finn both saw red before a terrific Andy Lyons effort sent the Gypsies into the quarter final.
The Dublin 7 side booked a semi-final spot with a 4-0 win over ten man Maynooth University Town in September. Last month’s semi-final was as dramatic as they come. After missing a first half penalty, Georgie Kelly redeemed himself with an 89th minute winner as Marc Bircham’s Waterford finished with nine men.
However, their league form has been less consistent. Although they beat Drogheda United and Shamrock Rovers in recent weeks, a run of four draws and one loss in October made their top four hopes difficult. Last weekend’s 1-1 draw away to Sligo Rovers left them in fifth place on the final day.
Bohs will have added pressure on Sunday as they must win the cup to secure European football next year. If this is the case, Derry City, who came fourth will miss out on the Europa Conference League qualifiers in 2022.
One advantage Bohs have over their opponents is their familiarity with the Aviva Stadium. Their Europa Conference League run in the summer saw them win three from three at the Dublin 4 venue, on a combined score line of 8-1.
Bohs saw off Stjarnan (Iceland) and Dudelange (Luxembourg) before earning a famous 2-1 victory against Greek heavyweights PAOK. It wasn't to be in the end in the tie, as a 2-0 second leg defeat in Greece ended their European journey.
Bohs manager Keith Long is suspended for Sunday’s showpiece. The Bohs boss is serving a one match ban for a red card picked up in their 3-1 win against champions Shamrock Rovers.
Defender Andy Lyons spoke ahead of the final, and said he is expecting a special atmosphere at Lansdowne Road.
“We’re really looking forward to the game,” he said. “The big thing for us is making our fans proud, they’ve been through a lot in the last few years. We’re looking at putting a performance in and if we do everything we can on the day hopefully the result should look after itself.
“If you look back at the atmosphere at those European games at the Aviva, they were electric and there were still restrictions in place.
"So, if you can add a few more Bohs fans to that, which there will be, I think the atmosphere is going to be incredible to be honest with you. That’s something we’re relishing to experience.
“Our last final was in 2008 and when you add the fact fans weren’t able to get to games due to COVID and you see the fans' reaction in the semi-final against Waterford you just know they’re going to look forward to the occasion just as much as we are.”
ST. PATRICK’S ATHLETIC
The Saints come into the final hoping to win their first FAI Cup in seven years. Christy Fagan’s brace in the 2014 decider ended their 53 year wait for the cup in front of 17,000 fans at the Aviva Stadium. Their last win before that came in 1961, when St. Pat’s beat Drumcondra 2-1 at Dalymount Park. Their first cup final appearance came in 1954, although Drumcondra ran out 1-0 winners.
The Saints’ cup run in 2021 began with a 6-0 thrashing of Bray Wanderers, with Billy King bagging a double. Next up came a trip down to Cork City, who they beat on penalties after a 1-1 draw.
In the quarter final, goals from Darragh Burns and Ronan Coughlan helped St. Pat’s see off Wexford FC 3-0. Dundalk arrived in Inchicore for last month’s semi-final but left disappointed as a late Burns strike sealed a 3-1 win in front of a sold-out Richmond Park.
The Saints league form has been much better than that of Bohs. Stephen O’Donnell and Alan Mathews led their side to second place, their best league finish since 2013, the year they won the league. They went unbeaten in their first nine games, beating Bohemians and Derry along the way.
While many hoped they would push Shamrock Rovers for the title, it wasn't to be as they won just one of their last five league games. Nevertheless, it has been a positive season for Inchicore side, and they will be hoping to finish it with silverware by Sunday evening.
This year’s cup final is set to be a record breaker. On Thursday the FAI said that over 35,000 tickets had been sold.
After 36,101 attended the 2010 final, Sunday’s showpiece will be the largest in the Aviva era and could surpass the all-time record 41,238 when Shamrock Rovers lifted the cup in 1945 beating Bohs 1-0. Only three of the last ten finals have passed the 30,000 ticket sales.
Stephen O’Donnell, who won three FAI Cups as a player, spoke to St. Pat’s media team ahead of the final.
“It's a great occasion playing at the national stadium,” he said.
“They're really enjoyable occasions, on what is a massive day on our domestic calendar. It's the biggest day of the year, in a lovely arena in front of a big crowd.
“We have a great bunch of players. It's not often you say it, usually you might have a squad of players and then a couple of lads that you might have doubts about their application and attitude, but I can honestly say I don't have one individual where I can say I'm not sure about him or his character.
“We have had players who won cup finals and great experience and then we have other boys that haven't played in one, so I am delighted for them to go and experience it."
Looking at the opposition, O’Donnell expects a tightly contested final.
"Bohs have some very good individuals,” he added.
“They are the top scorers in the league, so they carry a lot of attacking threat. Our four games have all been very tight. Not so much in the actual games being very tight but the score lines have been tight. There's a lot of good individuals on both sides, a lot of good footballers on a big pitch and that should lend itself to being a very good game on Sunday.”
Referee: Rob Hennessy.
Bohemians have won seven FAI Cups compared to St. Pat’s three.
In their four league meetings in this season, the Saints have won two and drawn one.
Sunday’s decider is the first all-Dublin final since 2000, when Shelbourne beat Bohemians 1-0 in a replay.
Bohemians 9/5; Draw 2/1; St Patrick’s Athletic 13/10.
Bohemians 2 - 1 St. Patrick’s Athletic
Suspended: Keith Long
St. Patrick’s Athletic
Injured: John Mountney
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