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Dublin: 10 °C Wednesday 17 October, 2018
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Maguire the hero as Cork stun Dundalk in FAI Cup final

The Leesiders gained revenge for their defeat at the same stage last year.

Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

CORK CITY EARNED a dramatic late 1-0 victory over Dundalk in the FAI Cup final at the Aviva Stadium today.

For 90 minutes and for much of extra-time, the sides could not be separated with defences on top.

However, striker Sean Maguire was ultimately on hand to score a dramatic late winner, as Cork gained revenge for their defeat by the Lilywhites in last year’s final.

The game began in a cagey fashion, with Dundalk enjoying the greater possession and territory but struggling to break down a well-organised Cork defence.

It was a tense first half that at times threatened to boil over with some cynicism underpinning both sides’ play — most notably when Stephen O’Donnell was effectively rugby tackled around the ankle by Greg Bolger as the Dundalk midfielder attempted to break away on the counter-attack.

Daryl Horgan, fresh from his Ireland call-up during the week, delivered a slightly subdued performance, with his attempted chip near the end of the first half failing to trouble Cork stopper Mark McNulty unduly.

The second half was a more open affair, however, with both sides creating chances, as tired legs meant there was more space to exploit on the pitch.

Alan Bennett had a header cleared off the line, after he beat Gary Rogers to the ball from a corner, before Kevin O’Connor curled a free-kick just over.

Down the other end, David McMillan steered a Sean Gannon cross just wide, before Rogers nearly parried Gearoid Morrisey’s shot into the path of Maguire, but got to the ball again just before the young striker.

John Caulfield Cork manager John Caulfield celebrates with the FAI Cup. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Two substitutes from the respective sides — Chiedozie Ogbene and Ciaran Kilduff — almost won the game in the dying minutes of normal time, as the former’s side-footed finish from the edge of the area was saved via the feet of Rogers, before the Dundalk striker headed just over from a pinpoint Horgan cross.

Extra-time was similarly tight and tense, with Dundalk looking remarkably fit for a side who had played a similar intense encounter in Russia just three days earlier.

Man-of-the-match Ronan Finn was looking increasingly influential as he dictated play in midfield, and the Dundalk midfielder almost won the match towards the end of the second half of extra time, but his drilled attempt went narrowly wide.

But just as the game appeared destined for penalties, Maguire scored the winner in injury time to send Cork City fans into ecstasy.

A long throw fell into the path of the former West Ham youngster, whose shot was deflected into the net past the despairing Rogers.

Its been Dundalk’s season, but this was certainly Cork’s day, as they lifted the FAI Cup for just the third time in their history, having previously won the competition in 1998 and 2007.

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Paul Fennessy

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