Saints on march to end hoodoo as Harps are swept aside
St Patrick's Athletic 6 Finn Harps 1 - FAI Ford Cup semi-final
Rampant St Patrick's Athletic turned six-shooters as they swept aside Finn Harps at Richmond Park to earn another chance to end their 53-year FAI Cup hoodoo.
Saints manager Liam Buckley guided Sporting Fingal to victory in the 2009 final and he is looking forward to getting back to the Aviva Stadium again on November 2, having seen his St Pat's side beaten there by Derry City after extra-time in the 2012 decider.
"It's fantastic. I was afraid to think about it beforehand as I've lost semi-finals before, but now that we are through we can look forward to what will be a great occasion. Hopefully we'll win this time," he said
The memories of that 2012 defeat are still all too vivid for Buckley and he reminded his players about that feeling before the game.
"I told the players about that experience and it wasn't a good one. Now, we can use that as a driving force. We won't be thinking about anything else but winning. The only thing you think about is trying to win and unfortunately on the last seven occasions they have been there (in the FAI Cup final), Pat's haven't won.
"I can guarantee you that every one of our players will see themselves winning. History is not a burden - we can make our own bit of history."
Buckley's team didn't have to get out of second gear to book their place in the decider, although they got a fright when Harps equalised.
Killian Brennan and Conan Byrne got two goals each and Sean Hoare and top scorer Christy Fagan also got on the scoresheet.
Buckley admitted the scoreline was not what he expected. "If you had said to me it was going to finish 6-1 when they made it 1-1, I would have been a little bit surprised.
"It was a very poor goal from our point of view. I was a little bit nervous then but we created quite a few chances and we always looked like scoring."
Score they most certainly did and it was Brennan, last season's PFAI Player of the Year, who got the ball rolling in the 20th minute when his free-kick flew into the top corner.
A very direct and physical Finn Harps shocked the majority of the 1,851 spectators in Inchicore when they equalised nine minutes later, Packie Mailey rising above Kenny Browne to head in Gareth Harkin's corner.
It was all one-way traffic from then on. Brennan, who has failed to reach the heights of last season, turned provider as Pat's gave Harps a piece of their own set-piece medicine, with Sean Hoare getting above Mailey to put the Saints in front again.
Pat's made it 3-1 on the stroke of half-time when Byrne finished a trademark counter-attack by lifting his shot over the advancing Conor Winn after good play from Chris Forrester and Fagan.
Buckley's team picked up where they left off after the break and Brennan got his second on 65 minutes after running on to Keith Fahey's excellent pass before touching the ball past Winn and finishing with his right foot from a tight angle.
Further goals from Fagan and Byrne sealed a comprehensive win and Harps' misery was compounded when striker Gareth Harkin was harshly sent off for a foul on James Chambers. Manager Ollie Horgan was also given his marching orders for taking his protests too far.
Sean McCarron then somehow escaped with a yellow card for a lunge on Sam Verdon, which resulted in the Pat's player being taken off on a stretcher.
St Patrick's Athletic: Clarke; O'Brien, Hoare, Browne, Bermingham; C Byrne, Chambers, Fahey (Verdon, 81), Brennan (McCormack, 73), Forrester; Fagan (Durrard, 73).
Finn Harps: Winn; McNulty, P Mailey, Cowan, McMonagle; Funston (McGrory, 65), McCann, J Mailey (O'Callaghan), Harkin, Coll (McCarron, 65); McHugh.
Referee: D Tomney.