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THE FINAL SILVERWARE of the domestic season was decided today as Drogheda United and Sligo Rovers did battle in the 2013 FAI Cup Final.

Could the Bit O’Red clinch a third cup crown in four seasons? Or would it be Drogheda’s day in what is set to be manager Mick Cooke’s final game?

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the game. E-mail niall@thescore.ie, tweet @thescore_iepost a message to our Facebook wall, or leave a comment below.

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Drogheda United 2-3 Sligo Rovers

Good afternoon and welcome to the Aviva Stadium for the 2013 FAI Cup final between Drogheda United and Sligo Rovers?

The last of the domestic silverware will be decided today — but will the cup be heading back north to County Louth or out west with the Bit O’Red?

Kick-off is at 3.30pm.

Here’s how they will line out this afternoon.

Drogheda United are unchanged from their semi-final win against town rivals Dundalk with Declan “Fabio” O’Brien set to lead the line on his own once again.

Drogheda United: Michael Schlingermann; Michael Daly, Alan McNally, Derek Prendergast (c), Shane Grimes; Alan Byrne; David Cassidy, Paul O’Conor, Ryan Brennan, Gavin Brennan; Declan O’Brien.

Sligo show two changes from the team that beat Shamrock Rovers 3-0 in the semis. Gavin Peers, who was suspended that day, is in the heart of the defence and Anthony Elding starts up front.

Sligo Rovers: Gary Rogers; Alan Keane, Gavin Peers, Jeff Henderson, Iarfhlaith Davoren; Raffaele Cretaro, Danny Ventre (c), Joseph Ndo, Kieran Djilali, Aaron Greene; Anthony Elding.

That’s the view from the Aviva Stadium press box as both sides run through their final preparations.

Credit: Niall Kelly / TheScore.ie

If you missed this afternoon’s curtain-raiser — the Women’s FAI Cup Final between Raheny United and Castlebar Celtic — you missed a gem.

Raheny eventually won 3-2 after extra-time. Check out their opening goal, a lovely two-touch lob scored by Ciara Grant.

With just over five minutes to kick-off, it’s worth remembering that this is Drogheda’s third cup final of the season.

They lost both the Setanta Sports Cup (7-1) and the EA Sports Cup (2-0) against Shamrock Rovers — will it be third time lucky against a different Rovers today?

As you’d expect President Michael D Higgins, a big League of Ireland fan, is in the house today and is meeting the teams before kick-off.

Before we start, a quick look at the odds. Sligo are 4/6 favourites to win the cup for a third time in four seasons, Drogheda are 4/1 and if you fancy a draw in 90 minutes, it’s 13/5.

KICK OFF: We’re up and running. Sligo play in white with red socks; Drogheda in pale blue with claret stripes.

5 mins — Cagey opening start. Ryan Brennan tries to launch Drogheda’s first attack by opening play out for Daly and Cassidy but it goes behind for a goal kick to Sligo.

7 mins – Sligo targeting Elding in these opening few minutes but so far, Derek Prendergast and Alan McNally are not having too much trouble dealing with his aerial threat.

9 mins — Drogheda ping a few crosses into the Sligo box and when it eventually breaks to Gavin Brennan in midfield, he takes a few steps and fires a shot into the Lansdowne Road end.

Drogheda are pressing hard and they have marginally had the better of these opening few minutes.

10 mins — Half chance for Sligo as Greene shows a nice touch to control on his chest and lay the ball off to Djilali. He can’t make clean contact though and his weak shot doesn’t trouble Schlingermann.

GOAL! Drogheda United 1-0 Sligo Rovers (O’Conor, 13′)

Superb counter-attack by Drogheda who clear a Sligo corner and break the entire length of the pitch to score the game’s opening goal.

Captain Derek Prendergast gets his head on the corner, Ryan Brennan and David Cassidy do all the running, and they find Shane Grimes running on on the overlap from left-back. He gets to the byline and pulls it square to Paul O’Conor who makes no mistake with the finish.

Crucial intervention by Gavin Peers who gets his leg across Gavin Brennan to hook a long ball clear. Another warning for Sligo.

20 mins — Elding and Greene link up nicely on the edge of the Drogheda box but the latter’s shot from 20 yards is high and wide.

Drogheda’s pressure certainly has Sligo ruffled — but for how long can they keep it up?

23 mins — Cassidy wins a free for Drogheda out on the right. Gavin Brennan whips in a cross but Jeff Henderson is tracking it all the way and clears the danger.

26 mins — Lovely move by Sligo as Djilali plays the ball in behind the Drogheda defence down the left. Davoren drills an inviting cross low across the face of goal but it skips all the way through and out the other side. Schlingermann dived but if he got a touch, it was only a fingertip.

28 mins — Sligo line up a free just over 20 yards out and dead centre. It’s touched short to Ventre but by the time he gets his shot off, the Drogheda wall has broken to block it.

30 mins – Elding nearly gets in behind the Drogheda defence but before he gets it out from underneath his feet, Prendergast gets a toe in and knocks it behind for a corner.

32 mins — McNally plays a nice diagonal towards the Sligo goal but Gary Rogers stands big and blocks David Cassidy as he tries to hook it past him. It was a 50/50 ball but referee Paul Tuite gives a free-out.

37 mins — Sligo think they have levelled as Djilali plays in Danny Ventre. He clips it from the byline to Elding who powers home a header from the edge of the six yard box… but the assistant’s flag is up. Michelle O’Neill signals that the ball was out of play before Ventre’s cross and the replay’s show that she got it spot on.

39 mins — Much better from Sligo in the last few minutes but Drogheda’s defence holding firm under the pressure.

45 mins — Stoppage while Paul O’Conor is treated. We’ll have two minutes of added time.

HALF TIME: Drogheda United 1-0 Sligo Rovers

SECOND HALF: No changes for either side as we get back underway.

46 mins — Drogheda start with a quick break that has Sligo on the back foot immediately. Fabio O’Brien sets Michael Daly free but Paul O’Conor can’t make the most of his ball across and the chance passes.

Gavin Brennan creates another but Shane Grimes can’t get enough of a touch to divert it past Rogers at the near post.

50 mins — Djilali and Greene combine out on the left wing but Michael Daly slides in to knock it behind for a corner. Ndo’s inswinger is dropped by Schlingermann but he’s on it at the second attempt.

51 mins — Sligo pushing up on Drogheda now and the game is starting to open up nicely. Drogheda have a half-chance on the break but O’Conor’s shot from the edge of the box is blocked.

54 mins – Sligo break again and as Greene slides the ball towards Elding, McNally has to be on his toes to intercept.

55 mins — Sligo surge forward again and this time it’s Cretaro on the right. He tries to get a shot off but Grimes’ shot takes all of the sting out of it and it bounces into Schlingermann’s hands.

All Sligo now though.

58 mins – Hairy moment for Sligo as Ndo gets caught in possession by O’Conor. Henderson gets across to stop O’Brien from taking advantage but looks like he has injured himself in the process. Can he continue?

Evan McMillan is getting stripped to come on there but Henderson’s having none of it. He’s battling on.

Real end-to-end stuff now.

64 mins — DISALLOWED! Gavin Brennan towers above Alan Keane and beats Rogers with a header… but the whistle has gone for a free out to Sligo. Brennan had his arm on Keane’s back as they jumped and Paul Tuite deemed it a foul.

SUBSTITUTION: Sligo finally make that change as McMillan comes on for the injured Henderson.

67 mins — Gavin Brennan picks up the game’s first booking but Paul Tuite steps in to stop the handbags with Ventre before it develops.

Looks like Danny North will make his entrance for Sligo in the next few minutes. Just over 20 to play.

68 mins — Peers beats O’Brien to the ball and the Drogheda man catches him with a high tackle above the ankle. It’s yellow for O’Brien… but on another day with another referee, that might have been red.

SUBSTITUTION: A second change for Sligo and it is North who comes on… but surprisingly maybe, it’s Cretaro who makes way rather than Elding.

71 mins – McMillan bodychecks O’Brien on the left edge of the area. It’s a free in and a yellow for McMillan…

72 mins — What a chance for Drogheda. Everyone is expecting a cross but Cassidy pulls it back low to Ryan Brennan on the penalty spot. He should do better but in the scramble, Elding is needed on the line to clear the ball to safety. Frantic defending but Sligo survive.

73 mins — Alan Byrne is the latest name in Paul Tuite’s book.

Lots of Sligo pressure but every time Drogheda break, they look very dangerous. Fabio O’Brien pulls the ball back to Grimes in support and although he finds Gavin Brennan, he’s crowded out before he can really trouble Rogers.

SUBSTITUTION: Drogheda are temporarily down to 10 as O’Conor goes off but they withstand the Sligo pressure until Graham Rusk comes on.

Fifteen minutes left — we’re all set for a big finish.

GOAL! Drogheda United 1-1 Sligo Rovers (North, 78′)

SLIGO EQUALISE! It’s the sub Danny North who levels things up with a superb finish 12 minutes from time.

It’s desperately unlucky from Drogs’ point of view. A corner deflects off Alan Byrne directly into North’s path and he fires a brilliant scissors kick past Schlingermann from the edge of the six-yard box.

Extra-time again?

79 mins – Oooh, a chance for Drogheda to hit back immediately. Rogers comes for a cross and he’s well off his line as Cassidy loops a header towards goal. Fortunately for Sligo, it comes down on the wrong side of the bar.

83 mins — Alan Keane weaves his way in off the right win and towards goal. He skips past Byrne before Prendergast clips him and brings him down. The Drogheda skipper is booked and Sligo will have a free in from the edge of the D…

SUBSTITUTION: Sligo bring Ross Gaynor on for Aaron Greene. Looks like a hamstring injury for Greene. Six to play.

GOAL! Drogheda United 1-2 Sligo Rovers (North, 85′)

SLIGO LEAD… and Drogheda are livid. It’s a superb moment of inspiration by Joey Ndo who catches the Drogheda defence asleep and quickly hooks the ball over the wall. North reacts quickest and he spins to score.

As the Lansdowne Road end erupts, Drogheda players chase Paul Tuite back to the centre circle, furious at the lack of a whistle presumably. Derek Prendergast is sent off for his protests.

89 mins — Sligo will finish with 10 as well as Gavin Peers is stretchered off with what appears to be a nasty injury. They’ve used all their subs.

SUBSTITUTION: Peter Hynes on for Alan Byrne.

And we’re going to have EIGHT MINUTES of added time.

GOAL! Drogheda United 2-2 Sligo Rovers (Ryan Brennan, 90+2′)

INCREDIBLE! Ten-man Drogheda equalise in the second minute of stoppage time. A long ball misses both McMillan and Hynes but Ryan Brennan is in behind both of them and he keeps a cool head to slot it past Gary Rogers.

Can you believe that? After all of that controversy, Drogheda are level!

GOAL! Drogheda United 2-3 Sligo Rovers (Elding, 90+3′)

SLIGO LEAD, SLIGO LEAD! What a finish to what has been a brilliant game. Djilali’s cross is controlled by North inside the area and Elding blasts past a helpless Schlingermann.

HOLY… what a game. Still four minutes to play and Drogheda surge forward again. Not done yet.

FULL TIME: Drogheda United 2-3 Sligo Rovers

Last chance saloon for Drogheda as Schlingermann comes for up for a corner in the ninth minute of stoppage time… but Sligo clear!

IT’S ALL OVER — Sligo Rovers are the 2013 FAI Cup champions!

And breathe…

Danny North is named man of the match for his game-changing performance. Sprung from the bench with 20 minutes to play, North scored two and set up the winner for Elding. Incredible impact.

What more do you say after it? In keeping with recent tradition, this was another superbly entertaining cup final. And in keeping with recent tradition, it’s Sligo who have won it, their third cup title in the last four seasons.

Drogheda, unsurprisingly, are devastated.

That’s it from the Aviva Stadium. Thanks for reading and for your comments. Hopefully you enjoyed it as much as we did.

About the author:

Niall Kelly

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