Dundalk, Longford Town and Bray Wanderers will compete in the FAI Cup semi-finals this year but Derry City and Cork City must do it again to see who will be the fourth team to join them.
THE ability to bounce back from a disappointing result has marked this Dundalk team out as something special.
Six days after failing to beat Sligo Rovers in the league at this venue, the Louth club showcased those qualities again as they comfortably brushed aside the Bit O’Red to march into the semi-finals of the FAI Cup.
Stephen Kenny’s side fired blanks in the first half but the gulf in class between these protagonists was apparent as they piled on constant pressure.
When they turned that dominance into clear-cut chances, Micky Adams’ charges had no response, with classy goals from Daryl Horgan, Ciaran Kilduff, Ronan Finn and sub Sean Maguire keeping their increasingly realistic dreams of the double alive.
At the final whistle, the PA boomed out Starship’s ‘Nothing Gonna Stop Us Now’ over the tannoy. That just about summed up the mood of jubilation after a performance to make the patrons forget the miserable weather.
“All it does is get us into the next round,” cautioned Kenny. “There’s no point in getting knocked out in the semi or that performance is forgotten.”
Dundalk knew what to expect from visitors who came here in good heart following a five-game unbeaten run under Adams, including the scattered 2-2 affair in this venue.
Kenny reckoned that his team needed a few days off considering that fixture came at the end of a hectic week featuring tough games with Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers.
His team looked fresh here. Kenny has rotated in the earlier rounds of this competition but he opted against making changes and that decision was vindicated.
The energy of holding midfielder Chris Shields set the tone, and Richie Towell was livelier too.
Still, for all their dominance, they created few chances before the break. Sligo have found a new spirit under Adams, and defended their area well. In addition to a penalty shout, a half-chance for John Russell served a warning to the hosts.
Kenny’s men responded by moving up the gears and they went ahead in the 55th minute when Horgan, who had fired into orbit from close range seconds earlier, drifted inside to embark on an uncomplicated run that culminated with a right-footed curler past Richard Brush.
Sligo’s night went from bad to worse when they lost centre-half Tim Clancy to injury on the hour mark. Before they could recover, a Darren Meenan free was looped over Brush by a magical flick from the heel of Kilduff.
Finn scored both goals last Saturday and brought his tally to four in three games as he arrowed inside to open his body and pick his spot in the bottom corner from outside the box with Brush left clutching at air again.
And, while Kenny did withdraw Towell, Sean Gannon and Ciaran Kilduff with the win in the bag, his team showed no mercy.
Horgan should have made it four but lost his footing when he rounded Brush. Maguire made no mistake against his former club after being given the freedom of the Sligo half. It delivered a fitting scoreline to this one-sided contest.
Dundalk – Rogers, Gannon (Barrett 80), Boyle, Gartland, Massey; Shields, Towell (Mountney 78); Meenan, Finn, Horgan; Kilduff (Maguire 85)
Sligo Rovers – Brush, Keane, Peers, Clancy (Nielsen 61), Donelon; Cawley, Boylan; Myrie-Williams, Russell, Cretaro (Lehane 73); Corcoran (Elding 61)
Ref – T Connolly (Dublin)
Bray reached the semi-finals of the FAI Cup for the first time since 2009 as they overcame Leinster Senior League side Killester.
At a rain-swept Carlisle Grounds, headed goals in each half by Hugh Douglas and Dave Scully booked their passage into the final four. The opener after seven minutes was the first United had conceded in the competition.
Striker Chris Lyons saw his drive blocked away before defender Douglas timed his run to power in a front-post header from Ryan McEvoy’s delivery.
Michael Keogh struck the post just before the half-hour as the visitors rallied. Killester should have levelled matters in the 53rd minute. But from ten yards Alan Talbot ballooned over the bar.
They were left to rue that miss as the Wicklow club doubled their advantage in the 57th minute.
Peter Cherrie launched a long kick down the left channel to the breaking David Cassidy. He cut back and struck a hanging cross which was headed in by Scully at the back post.
Bray Wdrs – Cherrie; Barker, Cooney, McNally, Barker; McGlynn, Cassidy, McEvoy, Graham Kelly, Scully (Onwubiko 83), Lyons (Wixted 89).
Killester Utd – Donoghue; Kavanagh, Michael Kelly (Matthews 73), McCormack, Chambers (Mooney 79), Browning, O’Reilly, Talbot (Lee 68), Keogh; Lacey.
Ref – Ben Connolly (Dublin)
DERRY City and Cork City will have to do it all again on Monday night, at Turners’ Cross.
Both sides gave their all at a rain-swept Brandywell, but they could not be separated.
Derry took the lead on five minutes as Ryan McBride headed home his first goal of the season, powerfully making no mistake from Patrick McEleney’s corner.
Cork responded well and they went close to levelling on 28 minutes when Billy Dennehy’s shot took a deflection off Aaron Barry, before flashing wide.
They equalised on 49 minutes after a mistake by Dean Jarvis let in Karl Sheppard down the right. His shot was kept out by Gerard Doherty, but Mark O’Sullivan fired home the loose ball.
Cork went close again on 58 minutes, with Sheppard’s near-post header just wide.
Derry, though, came back into it, with McEleney long-range strike forcing a save from Mark McNulty, who denied the same player again late on.
Derry City –Doherty, McLaughlin, McBride, Barry, Jarvis; Dooley (Curran 80), Cornwall, McNamee, McEleney; Quigley (Morrison 65), Timlin.
Cork City – McNulty, Bennett, D Dennehy, Murray, (Dunleavy 76) Gaynor; McSweeney, Miller, Buckley, B Dennehy; O’Sullivan, Sheppard.
Ref – P McLaughlin (Donegal).
Two goals in inside as many minutes early in the second half ended non-league Sheriff’s FAI Cup dream as Longford eased into the semi-finals at the City Calling Stadium.
The AUL champions were under the cosh from the start with keeper Peter Halpin having to make two smart saves to deprive David O’Sullivan inside 13 minutes.
Stephen Rice shot wide from Lorcan Shannon’s corner while Kevin O’Connor shaved the bar with another long-range effort before dominant Town got their deserved lead on 25 minutes.
O’Connor and Shaw were involved with some neat footwork inside the area, the latter setting up O’Sullivan to shoot home from 15 yards.
But Sheriff, who had a John Rock goal disallowed on 31 minutes, stunned Town with a sublime equaliser in first half stoppage time.
With nothing seemingly on, midfielder Joseph Flood looked up and dipped a 30-yard shot over Town keeper Paul Hunt for a cracking goal.
A two-goal burst at the start of the second half restored Town’s supremacy, however.
Ayman Ben Mohamed put Town back in front less than a minute after the restart, racing through to drill a low shot to the corner of Halpin’s net.
Two minutes later, Town got a third. The impressive O’Connor threaded a terrific ball through for the run of Shannon who did well to place his shot from the edge of the area into the corner of the net.
Sheriff battled hard late on, and had a second goal disallowed, before substitute Darren O’Brien was sent off on 90 minutes for a second booking.
Longford Town: Hunt; Haverty, Gorman, Rossiter, Powell; Shannon, O’Connor (Salmon, 85), Rice, Ben Mahomed (Simon, 73); O’Sullivan (Gannon 65), Shaw.
Sheriff YC: Halpin; P. Murphy, Kavanagh, Browne; Lester (O‘Brien 71); Higgins, Joseph Flood (Joyce, 81), D. Dunne, Lynch; Rock, Glen (T. Dunne, 63).
Referee: Neil Doyle (Dublin)