Aaron McEneff 90' -
Jack Byrne 122' -
Joey O'Brien 124' -
Greg Bolger 126' -
Gary O'Neill 128' -
The Lilywhites are on the cusp of completing what would be an historic treble when they take on Shamrock Rovers in the FAI Cup final at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday (kick-off 3.40pm).
Having already lifted the SSE Airtricity League and EA Sports Cup trophies this year, the Lilywhites are just one more win away from becoming only the second club ever to win the domestic treble of League, League Cup and FAI Cup.
In terms of the FAI Cup, Vinny Perth’s side have had to do it the hard way this year having been drawn away from home in every round of the 2019 edition. Wins at Cobh Ramblers, Derry City and Waterford preceded a late 1-0 semi-final win over Sligo Rovers in the Showgrounds five weeks ago.
Michael Duffy was the player that came up with an 89th-minute winner in that match and the Dundalk winger will be taking part in his fourth FAI Cup final at the Aviva Stadium come Sunday.
“Cup final week is a brilliant part of the season. It’s always a great week for us and a brilliant week for the fans. Everyone has something to look forward to,” Duffy told the club’s official website.
“I’ve been lucky to be there the past two years and this year could be a bit more special.
“I’ll always remember last year because it was my first league and we did the double, but this week we can really make history and it sets us up for an unbelievable weekend ahead. We’re really looking forward to it.
“We know how tough it’s going to be [against Shamrock Rovers]. Every time we’ve come up against them, they’ve been tough. They’re a good footballing side and I’m sure it’s going to be a big sell-out in the Aviva, so it’s set up for a brilliant day.”
With a record attendance expected at the Lansdowne Road venue for FAI Cup final day, the PFAI Player of the Year nominee has called on the Dundalk support to get behind their team once again.
“On such a big occasion, all you want to hear is your own support. Especially the last two years I’ve been there, the fans have been non-stop from before the game to right after the game,” continued Duffy.
“This year in the big games, you’ve seen the Rovers game here [at Oriel Park], it was an unbelievable turnout and they didn’t stop singing. They helped us that night and we got through it.
“I’m sure the supporters will do the same, as they’ve always done it, because we’ll be needing them on Sunday.”
If the Lilywhites are to complete an historic treble, then they’re going to have to do it without influential midfielder Chris Shields, who has been controversially hit with a one-match suspension.
The most successful club in FAI Cup history, Shamrock Rovers will be desperate to stop Dundalk’s potential treble celebrations and instead win the famous old trophy for the first time in 32 years.
Despite squandering a 13-point lead and eventually finishing 11 points behind SSE Airtricity League champions Dundalk, Rovers’ runners-up finish was their best since last winning the league title in 2011.
Another thing that has improved immensely for the Tallaght outfit this season has been their defensive record and an essential cog in that machine has been Tipperary native Lee Grace.
Grace has been vital in a defence that has kept 21 clean sheets and conceded just 21 goals in the league, as well as popping up with a 93rd-minute winner at Galway United in the quarter-finals.
“We set the club record of 20 clean sheets last year and our target between the defenders and goalkeepers was to beat that this year and we did,” Grace told extratime.ie earlier in the week.
“We left it late against a Galway team who played very well that night. They restricted us to just a few chances here and there. We kept plugging away and I got my header at the end and I couldn’t believe it went in.”
The Hoops then ended their long-standing hoodoo in Dalymount Park against Dublin rivals Bohemians in the semi-finals, with goals from Graham Burke and Aaron Greene ensuring a first away win over the Gypsies since May 2017.
And in order to end their FAI Cup famine on Sunday, Stephen Bradley’s charges will have to overcome a Dundalk side that has beaten them in three of their four league meetings in 2019.
“In Dalymount, we hadn’t won there in so long and so that was the right time to do it. The fans were unbelievable that night,” continued Grace.
“We know we aren’t too far off [beating Dundalk]. The 1-0 defeat in Tallaght – I thought we were much the better team and even the Dundalk lads were saying that themselves, but they still won the game.
“It doesn’t matter how much you dominate the ball; you need to win the game. It is one goal here or there. We beat them last year, so we know how to beat them.
“The gaffer has said to us, you can be as good a team as you want, be as good a footballing side but if you don’t win anything, you are never going to be remembered. You have to win something.
“If we win, we will go down in history at this club because it is 32 years since the cup was last won here.”
According to Bradley, Rovers have no major injury concerns heading into the FAI Cup final, with just reserve goalkeeper Leon Pohls and 19-year-old defender Sean Callan unavailable for the Hoops.
Referee: Derek Tomney.
Dundalk will be playing in the FAI Cup final for the fifth year in a row, while Shamrock Rovers last played in the Aviva Stadium showpiece in 2010 when they lost in a penalty shoot-out to Sligo Rovers.
Although they are by far the most successful club in the competition’s history with 24 wins, it’s 32 years since Shamrock Rovers last lifted the FAI Cup. Their last success came in 1987 when goals from Harry Kenny, Noel Larkin and Mick Byrne saw them seal a 3-0 win over Dundalk at Dalymount Park.
The Lilywhites have won the FAI Cup four times since then and another win on Sunday would see Vinny Perth’s side complete an historic treble, becoming the only other side in history along with Derry City in 1988/89 to win the League of Ireland title, FAI Cup and League Cup in the same season.
PATH TO THE FINAL
Cobh Ramblers 0-1 Dundalk
Shamrock Rovers 1-0 Finn Harps
Derry City 2-3 Dundalk (AET)
Shamrock Rovers 4-0 Drogheda United
Waterford 1-3 Dundalk
Galway United 1-2 Shamrock Rovers
Sligo Rovers 0-1 Dundalk
Bohemians 0-2 Shamrock Rovers
Dundalk 9/5; Draw 2/1; Shamrock Rovers 6/4
Dundalk 1-0 Shamrock Rovers (after extratime)
Suspended: Chris Shields.
Injured: Leon Pohls, Sean Callan.
Aaron Greene on the motivation to win the cup for @ShamrockRovers 'It is a massive club that has been starved for success in the league in the last eight years and in FAI Cup for 32 years. That is a great incentive for us.' https://t.co/EDxxRqlTm2 pic.twitter.com/eBhkM0Lr4T— Extratime.ie (@ExtratimeNews) October 31, 2019