DROGHEDA UNITED 1 CORK CITY 0 (AFTER EXTRA TIME) THE LONGER the Setanta Sports Cup final went on at Tolka Park last night the more you sensed that it would take a mistake to break the deadlock. And for Cork City's Danny Murphy that proved to be an unfortunate reality.
In the 103rd minute of a game which required extra time to settle the matter, Drogheda substitute Keith Fahey dispossessed the left full and fed Stephen Bradley whose clever pass released another sub in Mark Leech who showed calmness beyond his 20 years to finish with aplomb.
In doing so he delivered another trophy to Drogheda who seem to have the advantage over their Leeside rivals when it comes to cup finals. The ?150,000 prize will come in nicely as they bid to sustain a league title challenge.
It wasn't pretty. Cup finals rarely are. But that won't bother Paul Doolin one bit as he reflects on a satisfying victory over league champions Cork who lost their unbeaten record for the season to date.
This was the fourth meeting between the sides already this season, after being drawn in the same group of the cross border competition and also locking horns in the league.
Considering that they also met each other in last season's FAI Cup Final, where Drogheda proved victorious, then familiarity was never going to be a problem.
Cork were without ace striker John O'Flynn, and playmaker George O'Callaghan only lasted 56 minutes before being replaced by Billy Woods. He still had a chance to make a difference before his withdrawal.
There were yellow cards for Drogheda's Jason Gavin and, perhaps predictably enough, for O'Callaghan in a frenetic period just after the Leesiders created the first chance of the match in the 16th minute.
It fell to Roy O'Donovan who latched onto a flick on from Denis Behan and forced a tremendous save from Drogheda goalkeeper Dan Connor who had to be particularly alert to gather at the second attempt.
Shortly afterwards Cork were even more unlucky not to break the deadlock with O'Callaghan the right man in the right place in a crowded penalty area but his sidefooted attempt ricocheted to safety off the inside of the post.
Drogheda bounced out of the blocks that little bit quicker after their break and within three minutes of the restart Devine had to be alert to touch Glen Fitzpatrick's cheeky lob over the crossbar.
It was scrappy enough thereafter although absorbing in the closing stages of normal time as the prospect of extra time beckoned and Cork launched one last effort to avoid that eventuality.
They had two chances, one an unruly scramble after a Neal Horgan cross and the other a Behan attempt that was blocked after Drogheda goalie Dan Connor unwisely rushed off his line.
Extra time was a war of attrition as tired legs wilfully attempted to prise an opening. In the end it was Drogheda's fresher substitutes who delivered the goods although Cork laid siege in their vain attempts to grab an equaliser.
Man of the match Joe Gamble was given a red card by referee Dave McKeon after the final whistle, presumably for some indiscreet comment.
Cork City: Devine, Horgan, Murphy, Murray, Bennett, Gamble, O'Callaghan (Woods 56), O'Donovan, O'Brien (Softic 102), Behan (McCarthy 100), Fenn
Drogheda United: Connor, Shelley, Webb, Gartland, Gavin, Keegan, Bradley, Keddy, Robinson (Fahey 83), O'Brien, Fitzpatrick (Leech 72)
Referee: Dave McKeon (Dublin)