Conor Clifford scored a screamer for Dundalk tonight. (Pic: Ciarán Culligan)
Leinster Senior Cup Semi-Final
UCD 1-1 Dundalk FC
Dundalk win 6-5 on penalties
For the second time this season, it took penalties to separate UCD and Dundalk in a cup competition.
Dundalk won the shootout between the sides in April's EA Sports Cup clash, 6-5, and history repeated itself here as Liam Scales' sudden death penalty miss saw Adam Finnegan send Dundalk to a final meeting with Shelbourne.
Finnegan steps up...and scores to the left!!! #DundalkFC win the shootout 6-5 to progress to the Leinster Senior Cup Final!!— Dundalk FC (@DundalkFC) September 19, 2017
'Skipper Gary O'Neill put the hosts in front from the penalty spot three-minutes before the break, however, a screamer from Conor Clifford late in the second-half saw Dundalk draw level, force extra-time and subsequently penalty-kicks. The midfielder also scored Dundalk's equaliser in the previous meeting.
And just like earlier this year, the first 10 spot-kicks were perfect with O'Neill, Robert Manley, Greg Sloggett, Timmy Molloy and Ben Hanrahan scoring for UCD, while Clifford, Seán Hoare, Steven Kinsella, Shane Grimes and Dean Watters registered for Dundalk. Though, Gabriel Sava saved the Students' sixth effort leaving substitute Finnegan to settle the tie in The Lilywhites' favour.
1-1 scoreline and 6-5 penalty shoot out win for Dundalk is a repeat of the EA Sports Cup victory in April— James Rogers (@jamesdundalk) September 19, 2017
The opening to the game was tepid with neither going close before Scales glanced a header off target approaching the midway point of the first-half. Dundalk had the first shot on target, though, when Carlton Ubaezuono forced Niall Corbet into a flying stop.
Home forward Georgie Kelly had another chance for the Students, spurning a one-on-one with Sava, before O'Neill sent UCD to the break a goal in front.
8 of Dundalk FC’s panel in their LSC QF win over Thomastown were part of the U19 Enda Mc Guill Cup winning squad.— Tom O'Connor (@boscoisalive) September 19, 2017
Dundalk - who featured last week's Enda McGuill Cup final hero Jack O'Keefe in attack - started the second-period strongly with Clifford and Kinsella having efforts on goal, though, as the half progressed, it didn't look like Stephen Kenny's men were going to find a leveller.
That was until six-minutes from time when Clifford stepped up to hammer a shot into the top left-hand corner from 30 yards. It was a strike that, despite some late UCD pressure, kept Dundalk's competition hopes alive as extra-time ensued.
84: GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL!!! 1-1!!!! CONOR CLIFFORD!— Dundalk FC (@DundalkFC) September 19, 2017
The Lilywhites were on top during extra-time with U19 heroes Ubaezuono (2), O'Keefe and Watters going close at the ground where they lifted the McGuill Cup six-days ago. And Dundalk were once more denied a winner when Hoare and Eric Whelan, on the follow-up, had shots saved by Corbet, while Kinsella went close at the beginning of the second-period.
But Dundalk weren't to be denied, showing their nerve from 12 yards to book their place in the Leinster Senior Cup decider.
The Dundalk U-19s, some of whom played 120 mins tonight, have the small matter of a game v Drogheda tomorrow— James Rogers (@jamesdundalk) September 19, 2017
UCD: Niall Corbet; Dan Tobin, Josh Collins, Maxi Kougoun, Liam Scales; Robert Manley, Greg Sloggett, Gary O’Neill, Jason McClelland (Cian Kavanagh 73) (Tommy Molloy 91); Georgie Kelly (Ben Hanrahan 44), Dáire O’Connor
Subs: Conor Kearns, Darragh Corcoran, Mark Dignam, Conor Crowley
Dundalk: Gabriel Sava; James Woods, Seán Hoare, Eric Whelan, Shane Grimes; Conor Clifford, Jake O’Connor (Aaron Townley 81); Steven Kinsella, Cian Flynn (Dean Watters 71), Carlton Ubaezuono; Jack O’Keefe (Adam Finnegan 99)
Subs: Ben Kelly, Jack Traynor, James Rice, Seán O’Hanlon
Referee: Tom Connolly