Cork City 1-0 Dundalk
Sean Maguire found redemption to score a dramatic late, late winner to give Cork City the FAI Cup as John Caulfield’s side finally took some limelight from their much-heralded rivals at the Aviva Stadium.
With a scoreless game in added time at the end of extra time, Maguire, left out of the match day squad for last year’s final when a Dundalk player, turned in the area to shoot home with the help of a deflection to bring the Blue Riband back to Leeside for the first time in nine years.
It was a cruel way for holders Dundalk to lose a final after a sapping 120 minutes of football. But few will begrudge Cork their victory for the way they’ve doggedly challenged the dominance of Stephen Kenny's side these last three seasons.
A scrappy opening was notable for a couple of rough challenges by Cork’s Garry Buckley and Alan Bennett on Dundalk’s Chris Shields and David McMillan inside the opening four minutes as the game struggled to settle.
Sharper and quicker to the ball, Dundalk soon got their passing game going as Cork toiled to find possession.
It nonetheless took almost 20 minutes before the first chance of the game arrived. Sean Gannon got in behind on Dundalk’s right flank to send over a low cross that bobbled just before Daryl Horgan skied it well wide.
As the half wore on, Cork gradually began to see more of the ball with Karl Sheppard having a dangerous cross cut out by Andy Boyle after Gearoid Morrissey found him in space on 37 minutes.
But it was Dundalk who produced the only clear-cut chances of a first half that finally sprung to life late on.
First Horgan outfoxed Steven Beattie on the left only to see his deft chip not have enough height to beat the alert Mark McNulty.
In the move of the half a minute later, Ronan Finn nicked the ball from Morrissey on halfway to push Horgan scampering forward down the middle. He played the ball to McMillan’s whose low drive was brilliantly turned round a post by McNulty.
The pressure on the Cork goal remained with Brian Gartland getting his head to Horgan’s corner to flash the ball wide of McNulty’s right-hand post three minutes before the interval.
With Buckley pushed on further in support of Maguire, Cork showed far more purpose from the resumption as Dundalk noticeably tired.
And they finally troubled Dundalk for the first time from a corner on the hour mark.
Kevin O’Connor floated it over from the right with Alan Bennett making contact with his shoulder to direct the ball goalward where Gannon headed off the line.
Six minutes later O’Connor curled just over the top from a free kick after Dundalk captain Stephen O’Donnell saw yellow for pulling down Maguire.
Dundalk relieved the pressure with a gilt-edged chance on 74 minutes minutes; McMillan slicing wide after Finn got to the end line to pull back the cross.
But Cork remained the better side in the second half as Gary Rogers had to show his worth with a double stop a minute later. The Dundalk keeper initially parried away somewhat clumsily from Morrissey’s drive before getting across well to punch the ball off the toe of Maguire.
City skipper Bolger then should have done far better on 78 minutes as he blasted over the bar after Maguire worked the opening.
Rogers would make the save of the game five minutes later. Maguire carved the opening on the left to cross for substitute Chiedozie Ogbene whose sidefoot shot was saved by the feet of the keeper.
Dundalk substitute Ciaran Kilduff then wasted a big chance right on 90 minutes when heading over following a run and cross from Horgan.
And so to extra time when the real action materialised at the death.
McNulty backtracked well to flip away a goal bound cross from Horgan before man-of-the-match Finn drilled wide having been set-up by substitute Dean Shiels.
Then, with the clock in the added minute of time at the end of extra time, Cork struck.
Beattie’s long throw was missed by Boyle. Maguire pounced, spinning off Finn to get in his shot. The ball clipped the heel of Gartland to trickle into the far corner of the net as Maguire wheeled away to celebrate with the Cork fans behind the goal.
Cork City: McNulty, Bennett, Bolger (O’Sullivan 96) (C), Beattie, Dooley, O’Connor, Morrissey (Healy 99), Sheppard (Ogbene 78), Browne, Maguire, Buckley.
Subs: Connor, Holohan, McSweeney, Turner.
Dundalk: Rogers, Gannon, Gartland, Boyle, Shields (Mountney 54), O’Donnell (C), Horgan, McMillan (Kilduff 78), Finn, McEleney (Shiels 78), Massey.
Subs: Sava, Barrett, O’Connor, Keane.
A goal from Seán Maguire in injury time of extra time has put Cork City 1-0 up in the cup final https://t.co/iWwdRWSG9F— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) November 6, 2016