06 Oct 2022

Clinical St Pats end Dundalk's reign as FAI Cup champions

Clinical St Pats end Dundalk's reign as FAI Cup champions

Will Patching watches on as St Pats' players celebrate regaining the lead. (Pic: Ben McShane/Sportsfile)

St Patrick’s Athletic 3-1 Dundalk FC

Hopes of European qualification next season are all but over for Dundalk FC after they suffered a 3-1 defeat at St Patrick’s Athletic in the semi-finals of the FAI Cup.

Defeat at Richmond Park means Dundalk, who have played in each of the last six finals, will not feature in next month’s Aviva Stadium showpiece for the first time since 2014.

St Pats were the cup winners that year, and they took the lead last Friday through Billy King on 26 minutes, only for Patrick Hoban to equalise four minutes before the break.

However, a superb finish from Matty Smith on 57 minutes, coupled with a Darragh Burns clincher five minutes from time, sent The Lilywhites packing their bags and switching their focus back towards avoiding relegation in the SSE Airtricity League.

“I’m bitterly disappointed for the players,” reflected Dundalk head coach Vinny Perth afterwards. “They deserved one big moment in the Aviva, so I’m bitterly disappointed for them. There’s some amazing people in that changing room.”

An estimated 5,000 spectators were in attendance, with a strong contingent travelling down the M1 from Dundalk, and they generated a tremendous atmosphere throughout.

With that crowd behind them, the visitors started brightly in Inchicore, with Will Patching seeing his early attempt easily kept out by St Pats goalkeeper Vitezslav Jaros.

Greg Sloggett got the better of James Abankwah before playing it into the path of Sean Murray, but he could only side-foot straight into the hands of Jaros from close range.

Murray again should have put the visitors ahead on 18 minutes when he impressively took the ball beyond Alfie Lewis and Abankwah, but could only hit the side-netting.

Hoban curled an effort miles off target moments later, but despite what was a lively opening for Dundalk, it was St Pats who would hit the front after 26 minutes of play.

Following a misplaced pass from Sloggett, ex-Rangers man King fired a shot from just outside the box which somehow crept beyond Peter Cherrie as Richmond erupted.

Still reeling from that concession, Dundalk were almost caught out again on the half-hour mark as King released Ian Bermingham on the left, whose shot was inches wide.

The Lilywhites equalised shortly before the break, though, when Patching did brilliantly to retrieve possession before finding Hoban, who then finished expertly to make it 1-1.

“We had a lot of big chances in that first half or big moments and they didn’t go our way and that’s the way it goes,” added Perth. “I’m immensely proud of them in terms of everything they done. It went against us tonight and we have to accept it.

“It wasn’t tactical, it wasn’t for the want or the drive, it just went against us. It was an amazing occasion and full credit to St Pats. They’ve come out on the right side of it and that’s the way football goes. I’m really hurt for the players in that dressing room.”

Indeed, Pats restored their lead on 57 minutes when the exceptional Burns sent a long pass into the path of Smith, who got the better of Daniel Cleary before making it 2-1.

King almost made it 3-1 to St Pats when his misplaced cross from the left almost found the net, but instead looped just over Dundalk keeper Cherrie, who was at full stretch.

Dundalk almost equalised on 83 minutes in spectacular fashion when Patching took a beautiful touch before his volley was brilliantly tipped over the crossbar by Jaros.

However, St Pats sealed their passage into the final against Bohemians, as Burns, after being played through by Ronan Coughlan, lifted his effort over Cherrie and into the net.

St Patrick’s Athletic: Vitezslav Jaros; Lee Desmond, Paddy Barrett, James Abankwah (Jak Hickman HT), Ian Bermingham; Jamie Lennon (Robbie Benson 64), Alfie Lewis; Darragh Burns (Shane Griffin 89), Billy King (Ronan Coughlan 79), Chris Forrester (Jason McClelland 79); Matty Smith. Subs not used: Barry Murphy (gk), Josh Keeley (gk), Kyrian Nwoko, Nahum Melvin-Lambert.

Dundalk FC: Peter Cherrie; Cameron Dummigan (Raivis Jurkovskis 78), Daniel Cleary, Andy Boyle, Darragh Leahy (Sami Ben Amar 87); Greg Sloggett (Daniel Kelly 72), Sam Stanton; Sean Murray (David McMillan 78), Will Patching, Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban. Subs not used: Alessio Abibi (gk), Sonni Nattestad, Mayowa Animasahun, Ryan O’Kane, Han Jeong-Woo

Referee: Neil Doyle (Dublin)

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