Thursday 23 November 2017

Cork City claim the club's first double while international influence dominates final

Dundalk 1 Cork City 1, Cork win 5-3 on penalties

Cork City captain Alan Bennett lifts the Irish Daily Mail FAI Senior Challenge Cup following the Irish Daily Mail FAI Senior Cup Final match between Cork City and Dundalk at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Cork City captain Alan Bennett lifts the Irish Daily Mail FAI Senior Challenge Cup following the Irish Daily Mail FAI Senior Cup Final match between Cork City and Dundalk at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Aidan Fitzmaurice

Aidan Fitzmaurice

FOR the first time since 1951, the city of Cork got to welcome home a double of league and cup as John Caulfield's side, thanks to a penalty shoot out, got the better of Dundalk at the Aviva Stadium.

The two clubs have gone head to head for honours for four seasons and even 120 minutes of tense football in front of 24,120 fans yesterday could not separate them, forcing the tie to a penalty shoot out.

After seven perfect conversions, Dundalk man Michael Duffy saw his kick saved by Mark McNulty, then Kieran Sadlier stepped up and converted past Gary Rogers to seal the win, and that historic double for Cork, the first in the club's history.

It was imported players who played the key roles in the day: after a scoreless 90 minutes, Danish defender Niclas Vemmelund, playing in his last game for the club before a move back to his homeland, scored a header to put Dundalk 1-0 up five minutes into extra time, only for Cork's French-born forward Achille Campion to level with a clever finish, and then it fell to Londoner Sadlier - albeit an Ireland underage cap - to seal the deal.

Tension was in the air, and the airwaves, in the lead in to his game, so much at stake for Dundalk as they tried to add the FAI Cup to the League Cup which was already won.

Cork appeared to have the bit between their teeth from the off as they tried to take the game to their close rivals.

And Gary Rogers was certainly the busier of the two keepers, in the first half at least, as he was needed more than once to keep his side in the game. Rogers was first called upon in the 12th minute when a Stephen Dooley cross found its way to Karl Sheppard, and he forced save from the Meath-born keeper. And on 18 minutes Rogers saved twice in quick succession to keep out the league champions, first denying Dooley and then saving on the rebound from Sheppard, conceding a corner

Dundalk did have their moments in attack, tough. Patrick McEleney's 13th minute strike was wide of the mark but Michael Duffy did hit the target on 16 minutes, and after a period of Cork domination Dundalk responded well.

Despite pre-match tension between the two clubs, there was solidarity in the 29th minute when a minute's applause was performed, by both sets of supporters, in tribute to Dundalk fan Robert 'Foods' McLoughlin, who sadly died last week at the age of 29.

Dundalk had a lot more of the ball, but not enough chances, after the restart as they tried to break down a Cork defence which had looked dogged in the final weeks of the league programme, Dundalk unable to get a clear sight of Mark McNulty's goal.

Michael Duffy had a shot blocked on 62 minutes while the addition of Dylan Connolly off the bench in place of Jamie McGrath didn't give Dundalk the spark they needed.

The Lilywhites pressed in the 87th minute when McNulty failed to collect a high ball in but Brian Gartland's shot was deflected out for a corner.

Dundalk did need Rogers at his best in the dying moments, the keeper pulling off a fine reaction save as Alan Bennett got on the end of Dooley's cross.

After no goals over 90 minutes, referee Paul McLaughlin prepared for extra time and after Vemmelund and Campion traded goals, it fell to penalties.

Karl Sheppard, Greg Bolger and Conor McCormack scored for Cork, while Dundalk's David McMillan, Stephen O'Donnell and Robbie Benson converted, Steven Beattie put Cork 4-3 up and once Duffy had his kick saved, the last moment fell to Sadlier.

DUNDALK: Rogers, Gannon, Gartland (Hoare, 90), Vemmelund, Massey, McGrath (Connolly, 71), O'Donnell, Benson, Duffy, McEleney (Mountney, 107), McMillan.

CORK: McNulty, Beattie, Bennett, Delaney, Griffin, Keohane (Sadlier, 58), McCormack, Buckley (Campion, 97), Dooley, Morrissey (Bolger, 97), Sheppard.

REFEREE: Paul McLaughlin

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