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Dublin: 1 °C Tuesday 22 January, 2019
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Good afternoon and welcome along to The42‘s live coverage of the 2018 FAI Cup final from the Aviva Stadium.

It’s the showpiece event in the domestic football calendar and for the fourth consecutive year, Cork City — the defending champions — and Dundalk go head-to-head for cup glory at Lansdowne Road.

While John Caulfield’s Rebels have prevailed in the last two years, Dundalk are bidding to complete the double having regained their SSE Airtricity Premier Division title this season.

It’s the top two teams in the country and we’re in for a intriguing contest as the 2018 season draws to a close. We get underway at 3.40pm and we’ll have all the build up between now and then. 

The teams have arrived and the stage is set.

Robbie Benson Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

General view of the Aviva Stadium Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Damien Delaney Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Patrick Hoban Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

TEAM NEWS: Steven Beattie has failed a late fitness test and misses out but Karl Sheppard and Alan Bennett have both overcome their respective injuries to start for Cork City.

Conor McCormack captains John Caulfield’s side, with Graham Cummins, Damien Delaney and Barry McNamee among those on the City bench. 

TEAM NEWS: The big news for Dundalk, meanwhile, is that Pat Hoban starts having been a doubt all week. The Lilywhites’ top-scorer leads the line for Stephen Kenny’s side, while Robbie Benson has been passed fit to take his place in the engine room. 

Just under half an hour until we get underway at the Aviva, but to whet your appetite for the 2018 decider, here are some of our pre-match offerings.

These sides are no strangers to each other at this stage having been the leading forces in Irish football in recent years, with Cork and Dundalk sharing the last three FAI Cups and five Premier Division titles.

The Rebels emerged from a tense decider two years ago after extra-time, while Caulfield’s side lifted their fourth cup crown 12 months ago with a penalty shoot-out victory over their rivals from Louth. 

Cork are bidding to become the first team to win three successive FAI Cups since Shamrock Rovers achieved that feat by beating Dundalk back in 1987.

There is absolutely nothing to choose between the sides, but which way do you see this one going?


Poll Results:




We’re hoping for a big crowd at the Aviva this afternoon, with conditions absolutely perfect in the capital.

A view of Aviva Stadium ahead of the game Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

A Cork fan watches the Women's Cup Final Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Cork fans set up their flags before kick off Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Earlier in the day, Wexford Youths completed a league and cup double with a 1-0 victory over Peamount United in the Women’s FAI Cup final. 

Katrina Parrock’s deft finish from close range proved decisive, and you can read our match report from the Aviva Stadium here.

Wexford Youths' celebrate with the trophy Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Can Cork City boss John Caulfield become the first manager since Jim McLaughlin to guide a club to three straight FAI Cup wins? Kick off is 10 minutes away.

John Caulfield Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

The teams are out on the pitch and are being introduced to the pre-match dignitaries. While we wait for the formalities to be completed, here’s a final check on the starting XIs.

Cork City: McNulty (GK), Bennett, Morrissey, Keohane, McCormack, Sadlier, Sheppard, Griffin, McCarthy, Buckley, McLoughlin.

Dundalk: Rogers (GK), Gannon, Gartland, Hoare, Shields, Duffy, Mountney, Hoban, McEleney, Massey, Benson.

Pat Fenlon is on co-commentary duty on RTÉ2 this afternoon and has been giving his pre-match thoughts:

“I think what we need for a better cup final is for Dundalk to score early and Cork have to come out and it opens the game up.

“If you look at both teams and they both play to their strengths and abilities, Dundalk are a better side and they should win the cup.”

Flag 1Mins

KICK OFF! And the 2018 FAI Cup final is underway. 

Cork City, the holders, are playing from right to left as we look in this first half, with both sides in their home kits. 

2Mins

1 min – Lively start to the game, with Conor McCormack forced to make an important clearance as Dundalk swept forward while at the other end, Cork looking to ask early questions of the Lilywhite defence.

3Mins

3 mins – Dundalk doing the early pressing. John Mountney looks for Duffy at the back post but the ball just skips off the surface and away from the Dundalk winger, but the Lilywhites retain possession. When it comes back in from the far side, Mountney gets above his man but is unable to keep his header on target. 

4Mins

4 mins – City’s turn to venture forward down this left side and Kieran Sadlier whips a menacing ball in but Cork don’t have anyone in the box to get on the end of it and Rogers is happy to see it fizz across his goal. 

8Mins

7 mins -- Brief concern for Shane Griffin as he stays down after a challenge with McEleney but after some treatment, the Cork left-back is called back on by referee Neil Doyle. 

8Mins

8 mins – Another stoppage as Chris Shields clatters into Garry Buckley and Neil Doyle has a word with the Dundalk midfielder. Buckley requires some attention to his shoulder but is okay to continue.

13Mins

10 mins – Terrific atmosphere at the Aviva Stadium with both sets of fans travelling in large numbers. 

15Mins

13 mins – It has been a stop-start opening quarter to the game, with both sides still settling into the occasion. Cork win the first corner of the day, but Griffin’s set-piece is met by Brian Gartland. 

18Mins

16 mins – Sheppard showing his willingness to run in behind again as he puts Rogers under pressure and the Dundalk ‘keeper can only hack it out for a Cork corner. The set-piece comes to nothing but John Caulfield will be pleased with the way his side have started. 

Flag 20Mins

18 mins — GOAL! Cork City 0-1 Dundalk (Sean Hoare)

First blood to Dundalk! Duffy delivers a dangerous corner from the left and Sean Hoare rises highest to send a bullet header past McNulty. It may have come against the run of play but the Lilywhites lead. 

19Mins

19 mins – That was a brilliant header from Hoare, as he got above the advancing McNulty to open the scoring in the 2018 Cup final. 

23Mins

20 mins — Penalty to Cork!

Hoare goes from hero to villain! Within 60 seconds of scoring at one end, the Dundalk defender concedes a penalty for a clumsy challenge into the back of Karl Sheppard. Cork have the chance to fire an instant reply. 

Flag 23Mins

21 mins — GOAL! Cork City 1-1 Dundalk (Kieran Sadlier)

And Sadlier steps up from 12 yards to draw Cork level, although Rogers should have saved the spot-kick after going the right way. It went under the Dundalk ‘keeper and he really should have kept that one out. Either way, it’s 1-1! 

21Mins

21 mins – An incredible few minutes and this Cup final has come alive. Cork will feel they deserve to be on level terms after the start they made and the decibel levels inside the Aviva have gone up a few notches. A cracking game so far. 

23Mins

23 mins — Off the line! It’s end to end now. Duffy whips in another corner and Gartland gets up this time, but his powerful header is cleared off the line by Griffin. 

29Mins

28 mins – Cork give the ball away in midfield and Benson picks it up, drives forward and forces a corner for his side. McNulty comes off his line to punch clear on this occasion, but Dundalk look so dangerous from the set-piece.

33Mins

31 mins – Cork have done really well by pressing Dundalk high, not giving Kenny’s side a chance to get their passing game into hear just yet. As you would expect, a high-octane, high-intensity 31 minutes of football so far. 

Meanwhile, Conor McCarthy has been shown the first yellow card of the day for blocking the run of Duffy on the far side. The Cork defender will have to be very careful now. 

33Mins

33 mins – Sean Hoare’s delight didn’t last long.

Sean Hoare scores a goal Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Sean Hoare celebrates scoring Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Kieran Sadlier celebrates scoring Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

35Mins

34 mins – Shields catches Sheppard late on halfway but the referee plays the advantage as Cork come sweeping forward. Sadlier gets to the byline and the ball comes across for Garry Buckley, who catches his effort from the edge of the area sweetly but it’s straight at Gary Rogers. 

Neil Doyle goes back to book Shields for that challenge. 

42Mins

41 mins – Dundalk probing dangerously as we head towards the break, with the League of Ireland champions showing good patience on the edge of the area before Duffy tries to get at McCarthy. 

45Mins

44 mins – Three minutes added on at the end of an entertaining first period. 

47Mins

45 + 1 mins – Conor McCormack has been really effective in his role in front of the Cork defence, with the City captain preventing Dundalk’s front three from finding space between the lines. 

Flag 45Mins

Half-time! Cork City 1-1 Dundalk

And that’s half-time at the Aviva. A brilliantly absorbing Cup final so far, with the sides going in at the break locked at 1-1. Sean Hoare gave Dundalk the lead with a powerful header but a minute later allowed Cork back into the game when he clattered into the back of Karl Sheppard.

From the spot, Kieran Sadlier drew City level and that’s the way it remained until the break, with Dundalk looking particularly dangerous from the set-piece. It’s all to play for in the second 45!

Flag 46Mins

KICK OFF! The teams are back out for the second half, and we’re off and running again. 

46Mins

46 mins – No changes for either side on the restart, with Dundalk now attacking the end which houses their fans. Today’s attendance is the biggest for the Cup final since the first at the redeveloped Aviva back in 2010. 

49Mins

48 mins – Chris Shields flies into another tackle and Keohane gets there ahead of the Dundalk midfielder, who has already been booked. Both players stay down for treatment and then Neil Doyle offers a final warning to Shields. He’s treading a tight rope at this stage.

50Mins

50 mins – Sadlier delivers a very inviting corner but Sheppard spurns the chance as he heads wide from close range. The striker’s reaction suggests he knows he should have done much better on that occasion. 

57Mins

57 mins – Dundalk make their first change with Jamie McGrath coming on for John Mountney as we approach the hour mark. 

58Mins

58 mins — Save! Nervous moments for Cork as Duffy curls a cross in from the left, Benson glances it goalwards and while McNulty makes a smart stop initially, City struggle to get it clear. 

60Mins

60 mins — Cork stand off Dane Massey and the Dundalk defender doesn’t need a second invitation to drive forward and try his luck from range, but his effort was always rising over the bar.

66Mins

66 mins – Sheppard has worked tirelessly all afternoon and he gets down the side of the Dundalk defence again, before forcing the corner over Hoare. Dundalk stand firm from the resulting set-piece.

68Mins

68 mins – Cork have been forced into a change. Gearoid Morrissey pulled up a couple of minutes ago and he is unable to continue with what appears to be a hamstring injury. Barry McNamee is on in his place. 

Flag 74Mins

73 mins — GOAL! Cork City 1-2 Dundalk (Patrick McEleney)

Dundalk hit the front! Cork squander possession in midfield — Griffin the guilty party — and the Lilywhites pounce clinically down the right, with Gannon picking out McEleney, who heads past McNulty from close range. Great goal. 

79Mins

76 mins – Dundalk back in front, and that was a brilliant goal. Gannon’s delivery was superb and McEleney timed his run from deep to perfection, ghosting his way in behind two City defenders to finish powerfully. The onus is now on Cork with just 14 minutes remaining. 

80Mins

80 mins – Cork have to throw caution to the wind now, and Caulfield has introduced a second striker with Graham Cummins on for Jimmy Keohane. 10 minutes to go. 

82Mins

82 mins – Frustration for Cork as Bennett is shown a yellow for a late challenge on Hoban. 

84Mins

84 mins – Final throw of the dice for City as Cian Murphy comes on for McCormack. 

86Mins

86 mins – A stoppage in play has taken the sting out of any Cork riposte. Dundalk use the break to make their second change, with Gannon making way for Daniel Cleary. 

88Mins

88 mins – Time is running out for the holders. Shields comes in to clear the danger and then the Dundalk defence stands firm from the resulting corner. Stephen Kenny is making his final change, meanwhile, as Benson makes away (slowly) for Dean Jarvis. 

90Mins

90 mins – Save! Sadlier tries his luck from all of 40 yards out and as it takes a looping deflection, Rogers is forced to backpedal furiously to tip it over the bar. 

90Mins

90 mins – Five minutes of added time! Will there be late drama at the Aviva?

91Mins

90 + 1 mins – Cork leave themselves exposed and Duffy surges down the left but with only McNulty to beat, is denied by the ‘keeper. Pat Hoban, who was unmarked in the centre, was less than impressed his team-mate went alone. 

90Mins

90 + 2 mins – Pat Fenlon awards the man of the match award to Dundalk’s Patrick McEleney, who is three minutes away from being the match-winner. 

90Mins

90 +3 mins – Last chance for Cork. Sheppard does well to win the free kick on the left. Gartland is booked for getting involved in the afters. McNulty is up! 

90Mins

90 + 4 mins – McNamee standing over the free kick…

90Mins

90 + 5 mins – It’s swung into the danger area but Dundalk manage to get it clear and that should be that.

Flag 90Mins

Full-time! Dundalk are the 2018 FAI Cup winners!

And that’s it. Stephen Kenny’s side have completed the double with a 2-1 win over Cork City. 

Great scenes for Dundalk and their supporters at the full-time whistle as they secure the FAI Cup after two years of final hurdle heartache. That’s the club’s 11th cup crown and they were deserving winners in the end.

Patrick McEleney’s header the difference at the end of an absorbing contest between these two sides, played in front of over 30,000 at the Aviva Stadium. Full match report on The42 to follow!

That’s all we’ve got time for this evening, but we’ll have plenty of reaction from the Aviva Stadium on Dundalk’s fourth league and cup double to come. Until next time, goodbye! 

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About the author:

Ryan Bailey

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