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From penalty saves to late goals: here are five of the best FAI Cup finals from the last decade

The cup final is rarely a quiet affair.

Can Derry make it three cup final wins over Pat's on Sunday?
Can Derry make it three cup final wins over Pat's on Sunday?
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

THE FAI CUP Final is an occasion that rarely fails to hit the heights in the drama stakes — certainly within the last decade anyway.

From last year’s late drama to Ciarán Kelly’s four penalty saves in 2011, the end-of-season cup final has always been one to watch.

With this season’s edition fast approaching, we take a look at the five best finals from the last ten years.

2006: McCourt’s masterclass

Contested between the same two teams that will take to the Aviva Stadium pitch this Sunday the 2006 cup final was one in which Derry City’s Paddy McCourt lit up Landsdowne Road with an exhibition of supreme playmaking that saw him set up three of Derry’s four goals.

This was Stephen Kenny’s last game in charge of The Candystripes before he went to Scotland to take on the Dunfermline United job. At the time Kenny had the impressive record of managing a team to the cup semi-finals seven years in a row. On a wet and windy day in the old Landsdowne his side would not let him down as the northerners captured their fourth FAI Cup.

It was not without a fight however. After going 1-0 down, Paddy McCourt’s mazy dribble set up Mark Farren to knock in the equaliser after 25 minutes.

Pat’s took the lead again with just 16 minutes to go when Trevor Molloy dispatched a penalty. No need to worry for Derry however as, six minutes from time, McCourt curled a sumptuous ball onto the head of Clive Delaney who nodded in the equaliser.

Into extra-time and it was Pat’s who would take the lead again, courtesy of Sean O’Connor. But Derry just wouldn’t lie down. First Peter Hutton equalised after meeting a McCourt corner at the back post before Pat’s defender Stephen Quigley turned the ball into his own net with 11 minutes remaining in what was a cruel end to an exhilarating game of football and a fitting goodbye to the old Landsdowne Road.

Peter Hutton celebrates his goal Peter Hutton celebrates his extra-time equaliser. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

2008: Kalonas bids goodbye with winning penalty

It took a penalty from cult hero Mindaugas Kalonas to separate Bohemians and Derry City at the RDS in 2008 after the game finished level at 2-2 after 120 minutes.

The Lithuanian international made just 12 appearances for Bohs during the 2008 season but was the difference in the cup final after being introduced for Neale Fenn during the second half.

A favourite at Dalymount Park, Kalonas left Dublin shortly after the cup final to join Ukrainian side FC Metalurh Zaporizhya, but his double-winning penalty will never be forgotten by Gypsies fans.

Mindugas Kalonas and Glenn Cronin Kalonas and Glen Cronin celebrate with the trophy. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Still 0-0 at the hour mark the game suddenly sprung to life with four goals in 16 minutes before both teams became rather more cautious in extra-time.

Kalonas was not the only hero for the Dubliners in the shootout as Brian Murphy’s spot-kick saves from Kevin Deery and Ruaidhrí Higgins allowed the Lithuanian the opportunity to seal Bohs’ seventh FAI Cup.

The Bohs team celebrate Bohs players celebrate after winning the cup. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

2010: Save, save, save, save

With no goals scored in 120 minutes there is only one thing that the 2012 FAI Cup Final will be remembered for — the penalty shootout. It’s not often that a shootout finishes 2-0 but, then again, it’s not often that a goalkeeper saves the opposition’s first four penalties.

After losing out to Sporting Fingal in the previous year’s final Sligo Rovers were out to make amends, Shamrock Rovers making up the opposition this time around. Rovers had their own agenda however as they looked to complete their seventh domestic league and cup double.

A big crowd of 36,101 may have been disappointed by the lack of talking points during the game itself but the drama of the penalty shootout would surely have made up for that.

Despite Alan Keane and Conor O’Grady missing penalties for the Bit O’Red it made little difference as goalkeeper Ciarán Kelly managed to stop penalties from Gary Twigg, Pat Flynn, Chris Turner and Paddy Kavanagh to ensure the cup would be heading back to the northwest for the first time in 16 years.

Ciaran Kelly is mobbed by teammates after saving the final penalty Kelly is mobbed by team mates after saving Rovers' fourth penalty. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

2012: Derry foil Pat’s again

This Sunday will be the third time in eight years that Derry City and St Pat’s have met in the cup final with Derry coming out on top on both previous occasions.

Pat’s were desperate to win the cup having not done so in 51 years and it looked as if fate might be with them when Christy Fagan’s late equaliser forced the game into extra time.

A drab first half was soon forgotten thanks to four goals in the second period. First Sean O’Connor put Pat’s ahead soon after half time with a long range free kick. His goal was to be cancelled out two minutes later however thanks to a strong header from centre half Stewart Greacen.

Source: yeatscounty/YouTube

It’s a common occurrence in cup finals that one hero will emerge to steal the show for his team and this game was no different. Rory Patterson, who’s goal helped Derry to this year’s final, put The Candystripes ahead on 69 minutes before Fagan’s equaliser sent the tie to extra-time.

On the stroke of the midway point in extra-time Patterson would strike again to send the 7,000 visiting fans into raptures and give Derry their second FAI Cup in six years.

Kevin Deery lifts the trophy Kevin Deery lifts the trophy for Derry. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

2013: Late drama at its finest

Before last year’s final Sligo hadn’t conceded a single goal in the 2013 FAI Cup. That was to change dramatically in this game however as four goals in the final 12 minutes led many to proclaim this as the best cup final to date.

Having only won one FAI Cup before 2013 Drogheda United were the underdogs going into the final against a Sligo team that were looking to win their third cup in four years.

This was Drogheda’s third cup final of the season having lost out in both the final of the EA Sports Cup and the Setanta Cup. It would turn out to be a third cup final defeat of the season for Drogs but it didn’t look like that for much of the contest.

Paul O’Connor put the Louth side ahead after just 13 minutes and it looked as if it might finish that way with Sligo struggling to break through.

Drogheda United supporters celebrate the opening goal Drogheda fans celebrate their side's opening goal. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

That was until the arrival of Danny North. The English centre forward was introduced with twenty minutes to go and turned the game on its head in a six minute period as he netted twice to put the Bit O’Red 2-1 up.

Drogheda were not down and out yet though as, two minutes into injury time, Ryan Brennan slotted home an equaliser. Cue wild celebrations from the purple-clad faithful.

It is one of the great sides of football that fans can be thrown from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other within a matter of seconds. That’s exactly what happened to the Drogheda fans last November when, two minutes after thinking their team had forced the game into extra-time, they saw their chances snatched away from them when Anthony Elding latched onto a North knockdown, swiveled and fired the ball into the back of the net.

Anthony Elding celebrates scoring the winning goal in injury time 3/11/2013 Anthony Elding celebrates after scoring the winner. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Have you got any favourite FAI Cup Final memories? Let us know in the comments below.

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