Extratime.ie – EA Sports Cup Final Report: Derry City 2
Niall Newberry reports from the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium
Dundalk kept their dreams of the treble alive on Saturday thanks to a penalty shoot-out win over Derry City in the EA Sports Cup final after the sides had played out a 2-2 draw over 120 minutes.
As often is the case when both meet, there was no shortage of goals and Derry took the lead early on through David Parkhouse before Michael Duffy equalised not long before the first interval.
Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe put the Candystripes back in front after the restart only for Sean Gannon to draw the Lilywhites level again, but they couldn’t break down the ten men of Derry in extra-time.
Six penalties apiece still couldn’t separate the teams but right into sudden-death, Ally Gilchrist saw his attempt crash off the crossbar before the Chris Shields stepped up to win the trophy for Dundalk.
However, a huge amount of credit must go to Declan Devine’s side, who battled bravely and for over an hour had to play with ten men after Grant Gillespie received two yellow cards in quick succession.
Added to that was the absence of their influential midfielder Greg Sloggett, who didn’t recover from injury in time to make the squad, while Ciaron Harkin replaced Michael McCrudden in the starting XI.
Dundalk themselves made two changes from Monday night’s FAI Cup quarter-final win in Waterford as Gannon and Daniel Cleary – who has just been named SWAI Player of the Month – both returned.
In what were difficult conditions, this EA Sports Cup final had an explosive start and Derry – who were the holders and most successful team in the competition – took the lead inside three minutes.
Some uncharacteristically slack defending from Dundalk allowed Junior to have a shot, which was spilled by Aaron McCarey and into the path of Parkhouse, who then tapped in to put Derry in front.
Dundalk looked to hit back as soon as possible, and Jamie McGrath danced through a couple of Derry players on the right before crossing in for Duffy, who saw his header tipped over by Peter Cherrie.
Vinny Perth’s side may have been dominating possession at this point, but Derry were looking dangerous on the counter-attack and Parkhouse really should have done better when he blazed his shot over after the menacing Harkin had broken on the right – a rude awakening for the Lilywhites.
The visitors were struggling to create anything of note with both Duffy and Patrick Hoban seeing headers easily saved by the Derry custodian Cherrie, who played over 200 matches for Dundalk.
Out of nowhere, Dundalk found an equaliser on 38 minutes when Patrick McEleney beautifully laid the ball off to Duffy, who unleashed a precision shot which gave Cherrie little hope of keeping out.
However, the hosts regained their lead six minutes into the second half when Junior collected the ball out on the right flank before his shot deflected in off Sean Hoare and past a helpless McCarey.
Cherrie was having an excellent game in goal for Derry, but he was at fault for Dundalk’s second equaliser, spilling Duffy’s shot which allowed Gannon to tap in from close range in the 69th minute.
Despite their numerical advantage, Dundalk couldn’t muster a winner and it was in fact Derry that had the best chance in extra-time when McCarey had to save brilliantly from Michael McCrudden.
Penalty-kicks ensued, and Jamie McDonagh and Barry McNamee were successful for Derry as were Hoban and Duffy for Dundalk before Jack Malone blazed over to give the Lilywhites the advantage.
Cleary put Dundalk ahead in the shoot-out and Dean Jarvis also converted along with McCrudden and Harkin, giving Robbie Benson the chance to win it, but his tame effort was saved by Cherrie.
That took the shoot-out into sudden-death and both Eoin Toal and Hoare dispatched before Gilchrist hit the bar, allowing Shields to be the hero as Dundalk recorded their seventh League Cup success.
It’s simply one down, two to go as far as a potential domestic treble is concerned for Perth’s charges.
Derry City: Peter Cherrie; Jamie McDonagh, Eoin Toal, Ally Gilchrist, Ciaran Coll; Gerardo Bruna (Darren McCauley 46) (Adrian Delap 118), Grant Gillespie; Ciaron Harkin, Barry McNamee, Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe (Michael McCrudden 100); David Parkhouse (Jack Malone 78).
Subs not used: Nathan Gartside, Mark McChrystal, Ronan Boyce.
Booked: Gerardo Bruna (18), Grant Gillespie (53 + 57), Jamie McDonagh (120).
Sent off: Grant Gillespie (57).
Dundalk: Aaron McCarey; Sean Gannon, Sean Hoare, Daniel Cleary, Dane Massey; Chris Shields, Patrick McEleney (Dean Jarvis 102); Daniel Kelly (Robbie Benson 67), Jamie McGrath (Georgie Kelly 87), Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban.
Subs not used: Gary Rogers, Brian Gartland, Andy Boyle, Cameron Dummigan.
Booked: Sean Hoare (84), Robbie Benson (101).
Referee: Robert Hennessy.
Attendance: 3,000 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Michael Duffy (Dundalk).