Dundalk captain Andy Boyle. (Pic: Sportsfile)
Andy Boyle is relishing the prospect of captaining Dundalk FC in the Extra.ie FAI Cup final ahead of their semi-final clash at St Patrick’s Athletic on Friday (kick-off, 7.45pm).
Now unbeaten in seven matches in all competitions, Boyle has been a mainstay in the Dundalk defence of late – most recently in the 1-1 draw with Bohemians at the weekend.
On the back of his man-of-the-match display against Shamrock Rovers a week prior, the one-time Republic of Ireland international put in another remarkable display at Dalymount Park.
Against Bohs, Dundalk had looked set for another win and clean sheet, but referee Damien MacGraith awarded The Gypsies a stoppage-time penalty despite initially giving The Lilywhites a free out after Daniel Cleary and Ali Coote had both gone in for a tackle.
“To be honest, I haven’t seen it back yet,” Boyle told The Democrat afterwards. “My view was kind of obscured by a lot of bodies in the box. He’s gave a free-kick out, so you have to question why he’s going to change his mind.
“When I see it back, it might be different, but Dan is saying the lad has stood on him first. I think in the 90th minute, it’s a really big call to make. It’s just one of them things, but we probably should have had the game killed off before that.
“We had a couple of chances that probably would have put the game to bed. I thought as a whole, we probably deserved the win and the clean sheet tonight.”
Following the challenge, Mayo official MacGraith had initially awarded a free-kick to the away side, but after consultation with linesman Darragh Keegan, instead gave Bohs a penalty, which former Dundalk man Georgie Kelly converted for his 23rd goal of the season.
“I think when he makes the decision, he’s got to stick by his decision,” added Boyle. “I felt once he went to the linesman, that he was always going to give the penalty. That’s week in, week out what we’re up against. We had to dig in.”
Dundalk make another trip to the capital on Friday to take on St Pats in the FAI Cup semis, with an Aviva Stadium showdown against Bohs or Waterford the prize on offer.
“We’ve obviously got a cup semi-final next week which is massive for us. It’s a chance to get the fans back to an FAI Cup final. It would be a good end to a season that hasn’t gone to plan really.”
Cup holders Dundalk have featured in each of the last six Aviva finals, with Boyle – who spent time in England and Scotland between 2017 and 2019 – playing in three of those.
No team in the history of the League of Ireland has participated in seven successive FAI Cup finals, with Dundalk (2015-20) and Shamrock Rovers (1964-69) the current record.
“It’s a massive game next week,” said Boyle. “It’s huge for us. Obviously, the semi-final of the cup. The biggest day in a season for a League of Ireland player is the FAI Cup final. It would be brilliant to be part of it.
“We’ve been lucky enough over the last couple of years to be part of many of them. It would be a brilliant achievement to get there seven times.
“We’ve got a big test ahead of us. Pats are a good side, but I think if we show the discipline and quality on the ball, we’ve got a great chance. I’m sure they’ll be thinking the same, but it should be a cracking game.”
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