FAI Cup Final Report: Shamrock Rovers 2 - 4 Dundalk (Dundalk win after extra-time)Sun, Dec 06 2020
Macdara Ferris reports from Aviva Stadium
The Lilywhites silenced those discussions about their imminent demise and of Shamrock Rovers domination to claim their 12th FAI Cup crown by beating the Hoops at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday.
It was a dramatic 4-2 win after extra-time with a hat-trick from David McMillan and sub Sean Hoare scoring in the extra period.
The Hoops had taken an early second half lead thourhg Aaron Greene and then needed an equaliser from Pico Lopes to take the game passed the 90 minutes.
Dundalk Head Coach Filippo Giovagnoli had described his task at Oriel Park to friends as a “kamikaze mission” when he first arrived and while their tilt at retaining the title was a failure, he steered the Lilywhites into third place and Europe for next season, got them back into the Europa League Group stages and has now won the FAI Cup – the club’s third cup in the last six seasons.
So it is more like mission accomplished for the Italian.
Last season Dundalk had come to the Aviva looking to claim a league, cup and league cup treble only to be stopped by Shamrock Rovers via a penalty shoot-out.
The tables were turned in 2020 though as Rovers were stopped from winning their first league and cup double since the last days of Milltown in 1987. Dundalk did so by becoming the only side to beat the Hoops in domestic action this year – Rovers’ only competitive defeat in 2020 prior to Sunday was to Serie A leaders AC Milan.
There weren’t too many clear cut chances to be seen in the first half and that wasn’t because the fog was too thick to see the action.
Thankfully the low visibility didn’t affect the game but the first half was a quiet affair – bar the intermittent foghorn coming from Dublin Port - and not just because of the behind-closed-doors nature of the game.
The second half was a different story but in the opening period Shamrock Rovers had the more of the ball and the better opportunities that came the way of either team in the first 45.
The closest that they came to a goal was when Graham Burke whipped a left foot free kick around the Dundalk wall just before the half hour mark which Gary Rogers did really well to save low to his right.
The ‘keeper had saved from Burke on eight minutes when the Ireland international ran onto a Ronan Finn flick and needed to be on his toes to push away a driven effort from distance from Aaron McEneff on the midway point of the half.
Dundalk did at least work Alan Mannus with a straight forward save off a Brian Gartland header and when Cameron Dummigan got the better of Ronan Finn his curling effort caused some concerns for the Hoops but that was as good as it got for the Lilywhites in the first half.
Joey O’Brien was injured when tackling Shields in first half injury time when picking up his yellow and that saw Lee Grace switch into the team after the break.
And it was Grace who got the assist for the opening goal of the game four minutes into the second period. Rovers forced a couple of quick corners – one earned off a deflection in the box that came off Chris Shields’ arm - and when Grace flicked on the second one, Aaron Greene grabbed the goal.
He had a free header at the back post that he beat Rogers with through the goalkeeper’s legs and beyond McMillan’s attempted goal line clearance.
The Hoops piled on the pressure after that with Greene’s driven effort off a great run, a back-post Pico Lopes chance and a Liam Scales header hemming Dundalk back in their own half but they will rue those missed chances when they were clearly on top.
Dundalk managed to conjure up an equaliser just as the game looked to be getting away from them though as the match went into a hectic five-minute period when we had three goals.
McMillan turned in the box and his low shot hit both posts before going in on 69 minutes and three minutes later he had his second with an incredible come back for Dundalk.
Liam Scales was adjudged to have taken down Cleary in the box and McMillan sent Mannus the wrong way with his spot-kick to give the Lilywhites the lead for his seventh goal in this season’s FAI Cup – scoring in each round.
However, the lead only lasted two minutes as Lopes leaped high to head home Byrne’s corner for his fourth of the season – all scored from set pieces when the Hoops have trailed in each match.
Neither side could find a winner in the 90 minutes and we headed to extra-time. McMillan got a header on goal but straight at Mannus four minutes into the first period. Burke blasted wide at the other end after a sweeping Rovers move with Gartland doing well to close him down and put him off.
In injury time in the first half of extra-time Rogers pulled off another great save pushing a Byrne free kick behind.
However, in the 111th minute Dundalk retook the lead as sub Sean Hoare turned home a corner with the ball going in off Scales and the win was wrapped up when McMillan got his hat-trick three minutes from time as the Lilywhites went on to claim their 12th FAI Cup crown.
Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Joey O’Brien (Lee Grace h/t), Pico Lopes, Liam Scales; Ronan Finn © (Rhys Marshall 83), Dylan Watts (Greg Bolger 83), Aaron McEneff, Sean Kavanagh (Danny Lafferty 84); Jack Byrne, Aaron Greene (Dean Williams 106), Graham Burke.
Subs not used: Leon Pohls (gk), Darragh Nugent.
Booked: Dylan Watts (16), Joey O’Brien (45+3), Liam Scales (71), Graham Burke (98).
Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Andy Boyle, Brian Gartland (Sean Hoare 106), Daniel Cleary; Sean Gannon (Darragh Leahy 95), Chris Shields (c), Gregg Sloggett (Jordan Flores 87), Patrick McEleney (John Mountney 95), Cameron Dummigan; Michael Duffy (Daniel Kelly 111), David McMillan.
Subs not used: Aaron McCarey (gk), Nathan Oduwa
Booked: Greg Sloggett (64), Chris Shields (87), Brian Gartland (105).
Referee: Rob Harvey
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: David McMillan (Dundalk)