FAI Cup Final Report: Bohemians 1 – 1 St. Patrick’s Athletic (St. Pat’s win 4-3 on penos AET)Sun, Nov 28 2021
Cahal Mc Auley reports from the Aviva Stadium
St. Patrick’s Athletic claimed the FAI Cup after beating Bohemians on penalties in a tight encounter at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
An extra-time opener for the Saints by Chris Forrester was cancelled out by a Rory Feely feeder, sending the game to penalties.
Robbie Benson scored the decisive spot kick to send the trophy back to Inchicore after Tyreke Wilson and Keith Ward both missed for Bohs.
Over 37,126 fans were in attendance to see the showpiece of the Irish domestic football calendar creating an electric atmosphere with chants and pyrotechnics in the minutes before kickoff. It was the biggest crowd for an Aviva cup final breaking the record from 2010.
Both sides started cautiously with the opening stages of the game being bogged down in the middle third of pitch.
Ross Tierney and Ian Bermingham had half chances in the early minutes for their respective sides, but both teams struggled to hold on to possession.
Pats finally managed to get behind the Bohs’ defensive line after 20 minutes as Darragh Burns played in the overlapping Sam Bone with a chipped through ball. However James Talbot was off his line quickly to make the save from the Saints full back.
Georgie Kelly responded straight away with a shot of his own that hit the side netting but the Athletic were gradually able to get themselves on the front foot.
Chris Forrester had a chance to direct a header into an empty net as Talbot mistimed his punch from a corner, but the Pats man couldn’t keep his effort down as it flew harmlessly over the bar.
Bohs dropped back to soak up the increasing pressure that Pats were putting on their backline and began to play on the counterattack. Liam Burt broke forward on a mazy run, trying to catch out Vitezslav Jaros with an ambitious chip, but his effort sailed well over the crossbar.
The Saints pushed harder for the opening goal after the half hour mark, playing the best football of the evening so far in the process.
Some intricate passing between Benson and Jamie Lennon put the latter through on goal, but Talbot got a strong hand on the ball and cleared it from danger.
Benson was involved again shortly after, this time pulling it back to Forrester who drew a more straightforward save from Talbot.
Bohs gave their opponents a reminder of the threat they posed just before the interval as a long kick out from Talbot bounced over Lee Desmond and straight to the feet of Kelly. However Paddy Barrett was able to do just enough to deny the striker as the sides went in level after a very cagey first half.
The standard didn’t improve after the break with chances being even scarcer than they had in the first half.
Quality in the final third was markedly absent from both sides as they struggled to create openings in their opponents defence.
It was Bohs who created the only clear chance of the half on the hour mark as a swift counterattack led to the ball falling at the feet of Ali Coote inside the box, but a brilliant last ditch block by Bermingham stopped him getting a shot on goal while Kelly had a rebounded effort saved by Jaros.
Kelly had had looked the most likely to create something for Bohs all evening, but disaster struck as their top scorer was forced off through injury after 62 minutes.
The forward had held up the play and acted as a focal point all game, but without his presence, Bohs found it difficult to get the ball up the pitch and out of their own half as Pats got on the front foot.
Despite the lack of action on the field, the atmosphere in ground rose to fever pitch as both sets of fans tried their utmost to transfer some energy to their players.
Burns and Bohemians sub Promise Omochere almost managed to connect properly with dangerous crosses along the six-yard box, but couldn’t stretch far enough as the cup final trundled towards extra-time.
The game opened up slightly in the beginning of the extra period as Rory Feely played in Tierney, but a combination of Desmond and sub James Abankwah prevented Bohs from taking the lead.
Pats responded with a chance of their own just before half-time in extra-time, with Ronan Coughlan playing himself in with a one two with Billy King, but Talbot was alert to the danger despite not having had a save to make since the first half.
The first 105 minutes of the cup final hadn’t offered too much in the way of excitement, but this all changed as the game finally exploded into life in stoppage time in the first half of extra-time.
Forrester picked up the ball inside his own half as the Saints broke forward with four attackers against three Bohs defenders. However, Forrester didn’t need the support as he took on the shot, rolling it past Talbot and sending the Pat’s fans into raptures as their side went in a goal to the good at the break.
They didn’t have much time to enjoy their lead as Bohs hit back in the first minute of the second period of extra-time.
Substitute Feely rose highest to power a flick on header past Jaros, picking a timely moment to score his first goal for the club and quickly restore parity.
Bohemians were buoyed by levelling so quickly after going a goal down and looked the more dangerous side in the last few minutes with Tierney almost scoring the winner on two occasions.
The Bohs forward timed a run across Desmond, but Jaros was able to save from an acute angle. The Czech ‘keeper then pulled off a string of saves to keep his side in the game, denying Tierney again after he got a head on a Stephen Mallon cross.
Bohs looked sure to have scored the decisive goal in the last minute of extra-time as an acrobatic save from Jaros was headed back towards goal by Feely, but Jak Hickman made a crucial goal line clearance to send the final to penalties.
Pats won the toss meaning the penalties would be taken in front of their own fans as Bohs took the first spot kick.
Perfect penalties from Dawson Devoy and Conor Levingston were matched by equally accurate efforts from Coughlan and King for Pats.
Mallon stepped up for Bohs to give them a 3-2 lead with Talbot subsequently gaining the advantage for his side as he saved Forrester’s penalty.
The north Dublin side weren’t able to hold on to the lead for long however, as Tyreke Wilson shot wide and Ben McClelland made no mistake in making it 3-3 after four penalties each.
Keith Ward missed the vital penalty, striking the bar leaving it up to Robbie Benson who fired past Talbot to win the FAI Cup for Pats.
Neither side performed at their best, but the final was a hard-fought contest nonetheless with Pats doing just enough to make sure of their fourth FAI Cup win and first since 2014.
Bohs will have to wait for their eighth cup win and also miss out on European football next year.
Pats end the season in second place, as cup champions and in the qualifiers for the UEFA Europa Conference League next year as the curtain comes down on another season of domestic football in Ireland.