There was double delight for goalscoring hero and man of the match Chris Shields after his second-half volley sealed Dundalk’s place in the Setanta Cup final against Sligo Rovers.
The May 10 showpiece will be the former Bray Wanderers man’s first in senior football, having come so close in the FAI Cup semi-final against Drogheda United last year only for a ridiculous red card which spelled the end for him and his side’s chances.
“It’s brilliant for the club and extra special for me because I’ve never played in a cup final at this level. It is a great achievement for us and it is one delighted dressing room,” the midfielder said with a huge smile on his face afterwards.
“Everybody in the squad puts the effort in and this shows you will get your rewards. Although it is my first final, and I’ve yet to win anything in the league, you have to put it to the back of your mind. We have important games to focus on before then as it is relentless now.
“It gives the fans something to look forward to because they’ve been fantastic since last year and right through this one. It is a great reward for them.”
The goal itself came just after half-time when he volleyed a Ruaidhri Higgins delivery past Craig Hyland. For a man renowned more for his tough tackling than flashy finishing, he was quick to play it down.
“A lot of is down to the ball from Ruaidhri,” he said modestly.
“I see day in day out what he can do and I just managed to nick in front of my man and get the volley away which was nice because it took the pressure off us.”
The 23-year-old also commended his boss Stephen Kenny for the way he set his side out in defence of their 2-1 first leg lead and is enjoying his continued rejuvenation in the midfield holding role that saw him collect the club’s Player of the Month award for March.
“We knew we would have to soak up pressure and that’s where I felt the manager got his tactics spot on. He set myself and Ruaidhri up in front of the back four with Richie just ahead of us and told the two of us to control the game which is what we tried to do,” he added.
“I enjoy playing that role too, it is my favourite, although it is good for the team to be versatile.”