Dundalk's hunt for an historic treble goes on after Michael Duffy’s 89th minute winner against Sligo Rovers booked them a place in yet another FAI Cup final.
Duffy struck late on after a sustained period of pressure to break Sligo hearts and propel the Lilywhites towards a date with Shamrock Rovers in October’s decider.
Aiming for a fifth cup decider on the spin, it was the holders who started on the front foot.
Applying the pressure down the Lilywhites’ left, Michael Duffy pulled an early save from a busy Rovers goalkeeper, Ed McGinty. While the Sligo net minder threw his cap on a direct set piece from the same man shortly after.
Sligo’s game plan required an early tweak when they lost top scorer Romeo Parkes to a knee injury.
Despite the setback, Liam Buckley’s men might have had the lead 22 minutes in.
John Mahon meeting David Cawley’s free from close to the corner flag, but his free header flashed past Gary Rogers’ far post.
Dundalk then lost winger Patrick McEleney, but not before he had McGinty on his toes with a bending free-kick which the Scot had to watch sail narrowly over his goal.
Sligo had a shout for penalty turned down when Ronan Coughlan fell to the floor while under close scrutiny from Dan Cleary.
This, before the visitors went close to breaking the deadlock five minutes from the interval.
McGinty falling on Sean Hoare’s downward header at the back post after Duffy’s corner caused problems amongst the Rovers rearguard.
At the scene of their last domestic defeat back in April, Dundalk manufactured the first chances of note of the second half.
Jamie McGrath wasn’t not too far away with his right footer, which flew across the face of the Sligo goal three minutes in.
While McGinty was again on hand to keep Dundalk at bay, when he threw an arm at Pat Hoban’s close range effort on 54.
Rovers enjoyed sporadic spells early in this game without actually producing a shot on target.
Indeed it was only a brave challenge from Mahon that kept the tie level when he dived in front of McGrath’s powerful drive just yards from the target.
Chris Shields neat dummy allowed him space in front of the Sligo area ten minutes from time during a tense finish. His subsequent shot didn’t match the move however, as he sent the ball wide of goal.
Substitute Sean Murray should have settled the game five minutes from time with Dundalk dominating the closing stages. But he could only blast over from six yards with the goal gaping and McGinty grounded.
Murray needn’t have worried though as Duffy struck in the 89th minute.
Georgie Kelly did just enough to keep Murray’s free in play at the end line. The ball falling to that man Duffy who fired into the corner of McGinty’s net to send Dundalk to yet another Aviva visit.
Sligo Rovers: Ed McGinty; Danny Kane, John Mahon, Kyle McFadden, Lewis Banks; Kris Twardek, David Cawley, Daryl Fordyce, Regan Donelon (Niall Watson 63); Romeo Parkes (Ronan Murray 11)., Ronan Coughlan.
Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Sean Hoare, Daniel Cleary, Dane Massey; Chris Shields; Jamie McGrath, Patrick McEleney (Robbie Benson 28); Daniel Kelly (Sean Murray 68), Michael Duffy; Pat Hoban (Georgie Kelly 87).
Referee: Rob Harvey.