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Murphy's penalty heroics earn Saints spot in last four


Drogheda's Gavin Brennan heads in a goal which was subsequently disallowed

Drogheda's Gavin Brennan heads in a goal which was subsequently disallowed

Drogheda's Gavin Brennan heads in a goal which was subsequently disallowed

ST PATRICK'S ATHLETIC remain on course for a first FAI Cup triumph in 51 years after a dramatic penalty shootout victory over Drogheda at Hunky Dorys Park.

The Boynesiders looked to be heading for a semi-final clash against neighbours Dundalk when Derek Prendergast struck after 79 minutes, but a fortuitous, last-gasp Vinny Faherty goal forced extra-time and Pat's goalkeeper Barry Murphy then saved spot kicks from Tiarnan Mulvenna and Brennan brothers Ryan and Gavin, while Sean O'Connor, Jake Kelly and Faherty netted their penalties for Pat's.

Drogheda created the game's first chance when a fine passing move ended with a Ryan Brennan shot that flew just wide of Murphy's right-hand post.

But the best early opportunity fell to the visitors in the sixth minute as Faherty advanced to the byeline before cutting the ball back for Greg Bolger, who miskicked his attempted hook-shot.

The Inchicore side then took charge and Sean O'Connor's vicious 25-yard drive flew narrowly wide before a Chris Forrester shot was parried by 'keeper Gabriel Sava and out for a corner.

After referee Damien Hancock brandished four yellow cards in quick succession the Boynesiders regained the ascendancy, and there was controversy on the half-hour mark when Ryan Brennan's cross picked out brother Gavin, who headed past Barry Murphy, only to have the goal ruled out for a push by the Drogheda winger.

There was more bad luck for the Boynesiders' talisman two minutes later when his downward header from a Philip Hand corner bounced up off the turf and onto the crossbar.

Straight after half-time, Bolger just failed to get a header on target from an Ian Bermingham centre, but then it was Drogheda who nearly struck, John Sullivan's shot from 18 yards blocked by Jake Carroll following good approach play by Peter Hynes.

Gavin Brennan nearly diverted a Ger O'Brien corner into his own net, before play swung to the Pat's end once more and Prendergast just failed to connect with an attempted diving header from Hand's centre.

Drogheda carved out a great chance for the opener on 74 minutes when Gavin Brennan's near-post cross looked tailor-made for Declan O'Brien, but somehow he failed to get a touch. But the Boynesiders finally broke the deadlock with 11 minutes left when they won a corner out on the right and Hand's deep kick was met by Prendergast's head.

They couldn't hang on until full-time, however, as a free kick was whipped into the box in the 90th minute and the ball ricocheted off Faherty and into the net.

The chances dried up in extra-time as both sides began to tire and so it was on to penalties, with St Pat's coming through to earn a semi-final tie against Dundalk at Oriel Park.

DROGHEDA UNITED -- Sava; Gannon, McNally, Prendergast, Hand; O'Brien, R Brennan, Foley, Sullivan, G Brennan; Hynes. Subs: Quigley for Sullivan (85), Mulvenna for O'Brien (105), S Brennan for R Brennan (106).

ST PATRICK'S ATHLETIC -- Murphy; O'Brien, Flynn, Kenna, Bermingham; Chambers, Carroll, Bolger, Forrester; Faherty, O'Connor. Subs: J Kelly for Forrester (67), Price for O'Brien (73), O'Flynn for Bolger (82).

Ref -- D Hancock (Dublin)

Irish Independent