Dublin Derby

Burke and Greene on target as Shamrock Rovers beat Bohemians to book FAI Cup final spot

Bohemians had Danny Mandroiu sent off as Rovers booked their place in the FAI Cup final.

Bohemians 0

Shamrock Rovers 2

A DERBY OF titanic proportions with so much build-up, so much hype, so much stinging animosity between two giants of Irish football unfolded in dramatic fashion on Friday night. At the end of it all, with bruises shared and a unique rivalry renewed for another edition, Shamrock Rovers prevailed.

graham-burke-scores-the-first-goal Graham Burke rises to meet the ball. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Graham Burke’s early headed goal combined with a late second with 10 minutes left from Aaron Greene proved the difference. Their efforts either side of half-time mean the Hoops have officially booked their ticket to the 2019 FAI Cup final and, as a result, have taken another giant leap towards potentially making history.

Rovers have won this competition more than any other club on this island. Their incredible haul of 24 FAI Cups has never been eclipsed, despite not lifting the famous trophy since Pat Byrne held it aloft more than three decades ago way back in 1987.

Travelling Rovers supporters flocked to a sold-out Dalymount Park tonight hoping, praying, believing that this would be the year. That led by the style and flair of Jack Byrne, the steady hands of Alan Mannus and the goal-poaching ability of Aaron Greene, 2019 would be the campaign to end a yearly dose of misery — exiting the cup — which they have long been sick of.

This was an occasion to savour, for both clubs. There was an unprecedented scramble for tickets, long queues standing outside Dalymount and Tallaght Stadium weeks ago. Everyone wanted to be one of the lucky ones in attendance for this Dublin derby to top all others — they hadn’t met one another in the cup since 2006.

james-talbot-before-the-game-as-his-goal-area-is-cleared James Talbot speaks with the referee before kick-off at Dalymount Park. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Granted, two stands were laid bare at Dalymount; long ago condemned as unsafe. But the 3,390 fans packed into the Jodi Stand and the Des Kelly Carpets end made a resounding atmosphere long before kick-off and throughout the entire game.

Flares from both stands lit up the night’s sky green and red as the giddy excitement kicked into gear. A chorus of The Auld Triangle boomed out loud from the Bohemians supporters, but with five minutes on the clock the only people singing were dressed in green and white behind James Talbot’s goal.

Byrne’s corner delivered towards the front post was met by the darting run of Burke. The Ireland midfielder, on loan for the second half of the season from Preston North End, successfully peeled away from his marker and arrowed a pinpoint effort right into Talbot’s top corner.

Cue more flares from the Shamrock Rovers supporters amid ecstatic celebrations. Some were thrown onto the pitch, causing a two-minute delay to the restart. If this derby was a flame bursting to ignite, Burke’s header was the match to let it rip.

paddy-kirk-with-ronan-finn Bohemians Paddy Kirk with Ronan Finn of Shamrock Rovers. Oisin Keniry / INPHO Oisin Keniry / INPHO / INPHO

Despite suffering a torrid record against Bohemians over the last two years — one win in eight previous meetings — Stephen Bradley’s men were the bookies favourites before kick-off. Now a goal up and in control of this semi-final, they felt confident to sit back and stay tight for the remainder of the half.

Keith Long’s side dominated possession after going behind, but constantly struggled to break down Rovers’ back three comprised of Roberto Lopes, Lee Grace and Joey O’Brien. Captain Ronan Finn and Sean Kavanagh were deployed as wing-backs, and with that impenetrable bank of five tuned in and compact, Bohemians struggled to find a way through.

Chances came and went. An Andre Wright header flew over the crossbar and a brilliant individual run from Ryan Graydon saw his shot fly straight at Mannus, but time after time the Gypsies’ attack failed to find a penetrative edge despite the threat of Danny Mandroiu knitting play together.

It was more of the same after half-time. Long’s men huffed and puffed, trying to create chances for Wright and Mandroiu, with Keith Buckley and Danny Grant seeing plenty of possession in midfield, but nothing seemed to work.

Rovers upped the ante, stretching play down the two wings trying to add another. Burke almost grabbed his second after nicking possession from Keith Buckley and dribbling directly into the penalty area.

graham-burke-celebrates-scoring-the-first-goal Graham Burke opened the scoring in Friday's FAI Cup semi-final. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

He chipped the ball brilliantly over the dive of goalkeeper Talbot racing from his line, but Paddy Kirk sprinted back onto his goal-line heroically to hook the ball away at the last possible second. With 20 minutes left on the clock, he had given his side a lifeline.

But any hope that lingered of a potential equaliser to send this to a replay in Tallaght next week was dashed with 13 minutes remaining after Mandroiu was dismissed. For a rash challenge on Sean Kavanagh, the 20-year-old was shown a straight red card and given his marching orders by referee Rob Hennessey.

Rovers ensured their place in this year’s FAI Cup final with a second from Greene. He raced clear inside the box before connecting with skipper Finn’s cross — the ball flying into the back of the net beyond the reach of Talbot to end the contest.

A sucker punch at the death, it was the final act in a dramatic instalment of Irish football’s most heated rivalry. Another setback for a valiant Bohs side, two semi-final exits in a row, while Rovers march on to Lansdowne Road hoping to end 32 years of hurt.

BOHEMIANS: James Talbot; Derek Pender, Rob Cornwall, James Finnerty, Paddy Kirk; Scott Allardice (Conor Levingston 63), Danny Grant, Keith Buckley (Ross Tierney 73), Ryan Graydon (Keith Ward 74), Danny Mandroiu, Andre Wright

SHAMROCK ROVERS: Alan Mannus, Joey O’Brien, Lee Grace, Roberto Lopes, Sean Kavanagh; Gary O’Neill, Aaron McEneff; Graham Burke (Greg Bolger 90), Jack Byrne, Ronan Finn (Daniel Lafferty 85); Aaron Greene (Graham Cummins 91)

Referee: Rob Hennessey

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