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Saints advance past Hoops in Cup
03 Aug 2015 19:07
Conor O’Malley was the hero for St Patrick’s Athletic with a brilliant save in the penalty shoot-out at Tallaght Stadium as the Inchicore side beat Shamrock Rovers to reach their first EA Sports Cup final since 2003.
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After 120 minutes of play had failed to separate the sides, O’Malley made the crucial save when diving to his left to bat away from Mikey Drennan, before David O’Connor hit Rovers’ fourth spot-kick against the post.
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Although Killian Brennan also missed for St Pat’s, Aaron Greene, Conan Byrne, James Chambers and Ian Morris all scored from the spot to see Liam Buckley's side through. Gary McCabe and Danny North had scored their penalties for Rovers.
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With Friday’s more important league clash back in Tallaght in mind, both sides rang the changes. Rovers boss Pat Fenlon delved the deeper in rotating his squad, making no fewer than seven switches from his side’s most recent outing in Drogheda. Buckley made just three changes to the St Patrick’s starting eleven that beat Galway United 3-1 at Richmond Park on Friday.
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And it was Rovers who almost had the perfect start with a clear chance within 30 seconds of the kick-off.
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Dylan Kavanagh won the ball on the left to whip over a cross. O’Malley misjudged the delivery to present Cian Kavanagh with a shot on goal from a tight angle, which was cleared at a post by defender Lee Desmond.
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Playing in a role behind striker Drennan, 18-year-old Cian Kavanagh put Marty Waters in on goal nine minutes later. Winger Waters should have done better as his rushed lob was way over the top.
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St Pat’s worked their way into the game with Rovers keeper Barry Murphy forced into a terrific finger-tip save on 12 minutes as he touched Chris Forrester’s 25-yard right-foot curling shot on to the crossbar.
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In an open game, Rovers should really have been ahead in the 19th minute.
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Ryan Brennan surged forward from midfielde to play the ball to Waters. Having done the hard part of cutting inside past two defenders, Waters went for power in the finish, succeeding only in drilling his shot wide from 10 yards for what was a bad miss.
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Rovers, once again, needed a telling intervention from Murphy seven minutes later.
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A free-kick, for a foul by O’Connor on Jamie McGrath, resulted in Brennan’s effort from the dead ball being pushed around a post by Murphy at full stretch.
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Another let-off for Rovers arrived in the 32nd minute. Kenny Browne out-jumped Murphy from Brennan’s corner to get his head to the ball. Desmond then saw his header come back of the bar.
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Seconds later, St Pat’s skipper Ger O’Brien wasn’t far wide with a fiercely struck shot from distance.
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Rovers regained the initiative in the final minutes of the half, hitting the woodwork twice.
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First, Drennan rattled the bar with a left-foot snap-shot after St Pat’s dallied in trying to clear.
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Then from Ryan Brennan’s corner, defender Desmond headed on to his own crossbar.
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The second half was very much a slow burner in comparison to the first, and it was the 75th minute before a real chance materialised.
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McCabe’s diagonal free-kick dropped for Max Blanchard in the area, but his touch saw the ball flash wide of the far post.
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Drennan was close to preventing extra-time when firing narrowly wide in the 91st minute after combining with substitute North.
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St Pat’s had the first clear opening of extra-time seven minutes in when McGrath set up Chambers whose close-range shot was deflected for a corner off the legs of Murphy.
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Rovers defender O’Connor then cleared off the line from Byrne in the second half of extra-time following Greene’s sublime through ball.
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However, the sides still could not be separated at the end of the second period of extra-time and the Saints marched on to this year’s final thanks to that shoot-out success.
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Shamrock Rovers: Barry Murphy; Simon Madden, Max Blanchard, David O’Connor, Luke Byrne; Ryan Brennan, Gary McCabe; Marty Waters (Gavin Brennan 103), Cian Kavanagh (Brandon Miele 67), Dylan Kavanagh (Danny North 80); Mikey Drennan.
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St Patrick’s Athletic: Conor O’Malley; Ger O’Brien, Lee Desmond, Kenny Browne, Ian Bermingham; Greg Bolger (Ian Morris 105); James Chambers, Killian Brennan; Conan Byrne, Jamie McGrath (Morgan Langley 111), Chris Forrester (Aaron Greene 87).
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Referee: Paul Tuite (Dublin).
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