Bohs 1 St Pat’s 1 – AET Pat’s win 4-3 on penalties
IN keeping with the theme of FAI Cup finals at the Aviva Stadium, the Dublin derby between Bohemians and St Patrick's Athletic went all the way and the cool head of Saints midfielder Robbie Benson, who had twice ended up on the wrong side of a shootout in the showpiece during his time with Dundalk, ensured the cup will return to Inchicore.
It looked bad for Stephen O'Donnell's side in the shootout when Chris Forrester, who had earlier lit up the match with an extra-time goal, saw his spot kick saved by James Talbot. But Bohs' Tyreke Wilson stepped up to fire the next penalty wide and then Keith Ward blasted over to allow Benson a chance to nab the winner.
He duly obliged in front of the Saints end in a game that attracted a crowd of 37,126, a record since the fixture was moved to this renovated venue in 2010.
It has proved a happy hunting ground for the Saints, who finally got their hands on the precious silverware in 2014 after a 53 year wait.
This victory caps a season of progress where they finished runners-up in the league, thus meaning there was no European pressure hanging over this fixture.
Their success means Derry City will qualify for the Europa League next term while Bohs face into another rebuild with a depleted squad.
O'Donnell's charges were the better side for most of the opening half of normal time, but Bohs regrets will centre around missed opportunities in extra-time when their response to a breakthrough goal from Forrester was stirring.
Their manager Keith Long was stuck watching in the stands due to a sideline ban, and it was a tough watch for him at the outset
St Pat's had started without a central striker with both Forrester and Benson taking turns operating as a false nine.
The flooding of the central area meant that Bohs were struggling into any kind of rhythm with Keith Buckley and Dawson Devoy outnumbered. In saying that, though, O'Donnell's team weren't exactly banging the door down. Bohs were only really cut apart on one occasion when the clever Benson teed up Jamie Lennon for a left footer that drew a superb stop from James Talbot.
While Scottish winger Liam Burt was always a threat, Bohs were reasonably subdued yet they got some joy as the interval approached by moving the ball quickly into Saints territory and Georgie Kelly - a player with plenty of eyes on him here - was frustrated when his touch let him down as he got away from Lee Desmond. Burt and the departing Ross Tierney had half chances too, a warning shot to the Saints in a slack spell.
The second half of regulation time was better, if punctuated by injury stoppages with Bohs losing Kelly from their attack and Ciaran Kelly from central defence and the Saints having to withdraw Paddy Barrett from proceedings.
Georgie Kelly's last contribution came just after the best chance for Bohs when a quick break culminated in Coote and then the league's top scorer having shots blocked in a frenetic scramble. Kelly went down clutching his calf from the subsequent corner and the pre-match doubt was gone.
Sub Promise Omochere put himself about for Bohs, while Billy King gave O'Donnell's charges a temporary burst of energy with the age profile of the match lowered by the substitutions.
By the end of the 90, 12 of the 22 players on the park were aged 23 or under with 17-year old centre half James Abankwah the youngest after stepping in for Barrett.
And the extra 30 was more like the erratic but entertaining encounters between these sides in the league campaign. Motherwell bound Ross Tierney was starting to pick up chances on the break for Bohs, pouncing off the shoulder of the last man as the Saints committed bodies. But it was Pat's who made the breakthrough and it was a moment of magic from Forrester, who had reverted to a deeper role on the hour mark, and ran from his own half to fire past Talbot after a superb touch deceived his old mate Buckley.
The latter was replaced, the exertions of the afternoon clearly having taken its toll. But Bohs hadn't run out of steam, and they emerged for the second period of extra time with real purpose.
A Tierney break forced a corner and sub Rory Feely - the replacement for Ciaran Kelly - timed a near post run to dispatch a header with Forrester irate with the defending of Pat's sub Ronan Coughlan.
Bohs asked the tougher questions as the clock ticked towards the 120 minute mark, with Tierney twice denied by Jaros, the second a fine stop when his header from Stephen Mallon's cross looked set to deliver a fairytale ending. Saints sub Jak Hickman hacked the ball off the line from the dead ball that followed as the Bohs dream turned into a nightmare.
Bohemians: Talbot, Lyons, Cornwall, C Kelly (Feely 75), Wilson; Buckley (Levingston 105), Devoy; Coote (Mallon 85), Tierney, Burt (Ward 102); G Kelly (Omochere 62)
St Patrick's Athletic: Jaros, Bone (Hickman 90), Barrett (Abankwah 81), Desmond, Bermingham; Lewis (Coughlan 96), Lennon (King 61); Burns, Forrester, Benson, Smith (McClelland 76)