DUNDALK boss Ian Foster is hoping to be paired with a team from north of the border when the draw for the semi-finals of the Setanta Cup is made in Belfast tomorrow.
Dundalk 1 Glentoran 1 Dundalk win 2-1 on aggregate
Cliftonville and Dundalk are the only two sides to have booked their place in the last four to date. Shamrock Rovers, who hold a 3-0 advantage over Lisburn Distillery ahead of tonight’s quarter-final second leg, are also expected to make the pot while the winners of Sligo Rovers and Portadown will complete the set.
And after victories over Linfield and Glentoran, Foster is hoping his side will be pitted against an Irish League side instead of familiar foes Shamrock Rovers and Sligo Rovers.
“We’ve had some joy against the teams from the north. Ideally I’d like to play a northern team purely because I dont want to play against either Shamrock Rovers or Sligo Rovers six times in a season. If we could get a northern team I’d be delighted.”
Ross Gaynor’s 80th minute strike against Glentoran on Monday night was enough to ensure Dundalk’s passage into the semi-finals.
The left winger raced on to a Mark Quigley pass to cooly slot the ball past Elliott Morris to send what had been up to then a very nervous Oriel Park crowd into raptures.
Glentoran, ever present in the Setanta Cup since its formation in 2005, were making their first ever competitive appearance at the Louth venue but crowd congestion outside the ground meant that the kick-off was delayed by ten minutes.
The late start seemed to affect both teams with Dundalk in particular wasteful in possession during a low key opening to the game. The first chance of the half pretty much summed up the opening 20 minutes, Dundalk centre-back Shane Guthrie heading well off target from a Daniel Kearns corner.
From then on Dundalk injected some pace into their game with Mark Quigley and Daniel Kearns becoming more influential.
Quigley went close to threading a beautiful through ball to Jason Byrne in the 24th minute only to see the ball zip off the pitch and roll through to Elliott Morris in the Glentoran goal. Two minutes later Byrne repaid the compliment, teeing up Quigley who scooped over from distance.
Scott Young’s side knew that only a victory would do if they were to progress to the semi-finals and they went within a whisker of restoring parity in the tie after 34 minutes.
Grant Gardiner’s looping effort from 25-yards took a slight nick of Shane Guthrie, but Lilywhites keeper Peter Cherrie showed great agility to back peddle and touch the ball on to his crossbar and away for a corner.
The Glens caused more disruption in the Dundalk penalty area seven minutes later when Jimmy Callacher stooped low to meet a Gardiner corner. Unfortunately for the visitors his header lacked direction and Jason Hill could only guide the loose ball over the crossbar.
The home side were infuriated in the 53rd minute when referee Richie Winter harshly adjudged Guthrie to have handled in the penalty area but Andrew Waterworth blasted his penalty high over the bar.
Glentoran got another chance from the spot six minutes later when Cherrie hauled Burrows down after the goalkeeper failed to deal with a Daryl Fordyce pile-driver. Burrows dusted himself down to duly level the tie.
With the tension, and the temperature rising, the tie exploded into life. Dundalk almost restored their aggregate lead in the 62nd minute when Colin Hawkins headed against the face of the crossbar before Jason Byrne had a penalty appeal waved away by Winter.
The visitors were reduced to ten men in the 77th minute when Johnny Taylor picked up a second yellow card but just when it looked like extra time was on the cards Gaynor had the final say when he put the finishing touch on a wonderful move involving Quigley and Keith Ward.
“The aim of the game was to get to the semi-final and that’s where we are”, said Foster. “It’s a great feeling and a wonderful achievement. Glentoran didn’t cause us any problems bar the effort which Peter Cherrie tipped over the bar.
“They were happy to give us lots of possession and we were delighted to slow the game down. We knew they would have to come out eventually and they did that. I don’t know whther they were penalties or not but it seemed to be a springboard for us to get going and we never looked back after that.”
DUNDALK: Cherrie, Madden, Hawkins, Guthrie, N Murphy; Kearns, Bolger (Maher 65), Ward, Quigley; Gaynor, Byrne.
GLENTORAN: Morris, McGovern, Ward, Taylor, Hill; Clarke, Fordyce (Nixon 83), Callacher, Gardiner; Waterworth, Burrows.
REFEREE: Richie Winter (Dublin).