Tuesday 24 October 2017

Dundalk will have to do it in Tallaght

Dundalk 1 Shamrock Rovers 1

Robbie Benson celebrates scoring his side’s goal with teammates Stephen O’Donnell, centre, and David McMillan, during the Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup semi final at Oriel Park. Photos: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Robbie Benson celebrates scoring his side’s goal with teammates Stephen O’Donnell, centre, and David McMillan, during the Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup semi final at Oriel Park. Photos: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

James Rogers

Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers will have to do it all again on Tuesday week to determine who joins Cork City in this year's FAI Cup final.

Robbie Benson's ninth minute strike looked like it had put Stephen Kenny's side on course for a third final in-a-row.

However, Brandon Miele gave Rovers a second bite of ending their 30 year wait for the FAI Cup next month by earning his side a replay 14 minutes from the end.

It was probably no more than Stephen Bradley's side deserved but unfortunately this game was overshadowed by the horrendous tackle Dave McAllister made on Chris Shields 11 minutes from time which has ended the Dundalk midfielder's season.

McAllister only picked up a second booking for the challenge rather than the straight red it deserved but in doing so he may have ruined his side's chances of getting the job done.

Dundalk had dominated the early proceedings and probably should have added to Benson's opener before half-time.

However, they were very much second best in the second half as Rovers battled their way back into the game with the home side struggling to get the likes of Patrick McEleney and Michael Duffy into it.

The tone for the match was set before kick-off when a flare from the away support set fire to the surface of Oriel.

It was pretty fiery on the field too and not just when McAllister becoming the fourth Rovers player to see red against Dundalk in five meetings this season.

Playing against a strong breeze, Dundalk were quickly out of the traps with McEleney firing just wide on four minutes after being picked out by Dylan Connolly's cross from the right.

Connolly got further joy down the right again moments later but on this occasion his cross just evaded Michael Duffy.

Rovers were struggling to deal with Dundalk's pace and passing and this led to the opening goal on nine minutes. Stephen O'Donnell was at the heart of it with a series of one-touch passes that ended with him playing a neat one-two with David McMillan before squaring across the box. Duffy stepped over the ball, allowing Benson to ghost in to fire home with his left foot.

It could have been 2-0 on 12 minutes but for the intervention of Luke Byrne, who blocked on the line from Connolly after he had been picked out by Duffy's left wing cross.

To their credit, Shamrock Rovers grew gradually into the game - helped by 12 consecutive frees in their favour either side of the break. It was from one of these that they almost levelled three minutes before half-time when Miele's inswinger from the right was almost turned into his own net by McMillan only for Gary Rogers to brilliantly tip over.

Dundalk also went close again on the stroke of half-time with Tomer Chencinski touching McEleney's 25 yard effort over the bar.

Rovers had the first clear cut chance of the second half with the ball falling to Gary Shaw six yards out on 53 minutes but he couldn't keep his effort down.

Shaw would then turn provider for another good opening on 64 minutes when he flicked on Miele's free kick towards Ronan Finn at the back post but his first-time effort was blocked on the line by O'Donnell.

The equaliser did arrive on 76 minutes. Finn's cross from the right picked out Miele at the edge of the area and after a decent first touch he fired through the legs of Shields to the bottom left hand corner.

Rovers looked the most likely winners at that stage but pressed the self destruct button three minutes later when McAllister was sent off for that horrific challenge on Shields.

Dundalk, with the man advantage, thought they had won it a minute from the end when Benson turned the ball home from close range but referee Neil Doyle ruled it out having adjudged O'Donnell to have climbed on Simon Madden's back in the build-up to knocking the header down to his fellow midfielder.

And so the sides must do it all again in Tallaght on Tuesday October 10th.

Dundalk have been in this position before having drawn with Derry City in last year's semi-final at Oriel before winning the replay at the Brandywell.

It will take a similar big effort to get the job done now but the Aviva Stadium is still very much in sight.

The Argus