St Patrick’s Athletic remain in the hunt for a first FAI Cup triumph in 51 years after a dramatic penalty shootout victory over Drogheda United at Hunky Dorys Park.
The Boynesiders looked to be heading for a semi-final clash against neighbours Dundalk when Derek Prendergast struck after 79 minutes, but a fortuitous last-gasp Vinny Faherty goal forced extra time at 1-1.
The teams could not be separated until spot-kicks as Pat’s keeper Barry Murphy saved from Drogheda’s Tiarnan Mulvenna and Brennan brothers Ryan and Gavin, while Sean O’Connor, Jake Kelly and Faherty netted their penalties for the Saints.
Drogheda were quickly into their stride in normal time and created the game’s first chance when a fine passing move ended with a Ryan Brennan shot that flew just wide of Barry Murphy’s right-hand post.
But the best early opportunity fell to the visitors in the sixth minute as Vinny Faherty advanced to the byeline before cutting the ball back for Greg Bolger who completely mis-kicked with an attempted hook shot.
The Inchicore side then took charge and Sean O’Connor’s vicious 25-yard drive flew narrowly wide before a Chris Forrester shot was parried by keeper Gabriel Sava and out for a corner via the chest of Brian Gannon who was on the goal-line.
Forrester then teed up Sean O’Connor and the number 11 blasted high and wide when he had time to take an extra touch.
After referee Hancock brandished four bookings in quick succession the Boynesiders regained the ascendancy and there was controversy on the half-hour mark when Ryan Brennan’s cross picked out brother Gavin who headed past Barry Murphy, only to have the goal ruled out for a push by the Drogheda winger.
There was more bad luck for the Boynesiders’ talisman two minutes later when his downward header from a Philip Hand corner bounced up off the turf and onto the crossbar.
Coming up to half-time there was something of a breather as the sides cancelled each other out, although in the final seconds before Mr Hancock’s whistle Pat's could have grabbed the lead goal, only for Forrester to hit his pass too firmly for Faherty who would have had a clear run on goal.
Straight after half-time Bolger just failed to get a header on target from an Ian Bermingham centre, but then it was Drogheda who nearly struck, John Sullivan’s shot from 18 yards blocked by Jake Carroll following good approach play by Peter Hynes.
Gavin Brennan nearly diverted a Ger O’Brien corner into his own net, before play swung to the Pats end once more and Derek Prendergast just failed to connect with an attempted diving header from Philip Hand’s centre.
Drogheda carved out a great chance for the lead goal on 74 minutes when Gavin Brennan’s near-post cross looked tailor-made for Declan O’Brien, but somehow he failed to get a touch.
But the Boynesiders finally broke the deadlock with 11 minutes left when they won a corner out on the right and Hand’s deep kick was met by Derek Prendergast who beat Murphy with a close-range header.
They couldn’t hang on until full-time, however, as a free kick was whipped into the box in the 90th minute and the ball ricocheted off Faherty and into the net to force extra time.
The chances dried up in extra time as both sides began to tire and so it was onto penalties, with St Pat’s coming through to earn a semi-final tie against Dundalk at Oriel Park.
Drogheda United: Gabriel Sava; Brian Gannon, Alan McNally, Derek Prendergast, Philip Hand; Declan O’Brien, Ryan Brennan (Sean Brennan 106), Eric Foley, John Sullivan (Stephen Quigley 85), Gavin Brennan; Peter Hynes.
St Patrick’s Athletic: Barry Murphy; Ger O’Brien (Aidan Price 73), Pat Flynn, Conor Kenna, Ian Bermingham; James Chambers, Jake Carroll, Greg Bolger (Stephen O’Flynn 82), Chris Forrester (Jake Kelly 67); Vinny Faherty, Sean O’Connor.
Referee: Damien Hancock (Dublin).