Kenny has the last laugh as Dundalk beat Hoops to EA Sports Cup

Two goals from Dane Massey and another from Pat Hoban gave Dundalk a 3-2 win against Shamrock Rovers.

Dundalk celebrate Pat Hoban's goal.
Dundalk celebrate Pat Hoban's goal.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

DUNDALK ARE THE 2014 EA Sports Cup winners after beating Shamrock Rovers 3-2 in a highly entertaining game at Oriel Park.

Early goals in each half from full-back Dane Massey and a further strike from top scorer Patrick Hoban ensured Stephen Kenny’s men were triumphant on their own patch but it was far from routine against a Shamrock Rovers side who had knocked them out of the FAI Cup on the same pitch just five days previously.

With questions abound about whether Dundalk were about to bottle their late season trophy charge – two recent defeats in league and cup were rare and uncharacteristic – Kenny was intent on putting those defeats right here.

A win for Dundalk would have been their first in the competition for 24 years while their manager had a much more recent pedigree. During two spells as Derry City manager, Kenny won this competition on four occasions.

Dane Massey celebrates winning Dundalk's goal hero Dane Massey celebrates Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Both sides have used this cup to field fringe and youth players throughout the campaign but with silverware – and for Dundalk momentum in their title charge – at stake, both managers fielded strong outfits. For Dundalk, Richie Towell and Dane Massey were handed first starts in this competition this year while there were starts also for Brian Gartland, Daryl Horgan and Patrick Hoban.

For Rovers, Stephen McPhail returned to the fold and was joined by fellow big hitters Ronan Finn and Conor Kenna. With a strong outfit at his disposal though and with a win on Monday fresh in their minds, Pat Fenlon will have been disappointed with his side’s start.

Just four minutes were on the clock when Jason McGuinness fouled David McMillan just outside the box. Dane Massey, who scored a superb free kick against Derry in a league game just two weeks ago, stepped up and curled unstoppably past Craig Hyland for 1-0.

Despite the fast start though, that was as good as the first half was to get for the Lilywhites. Shamrock Rovers went on to dominate possession and territory as Dundalk toiled. Without creating anything of note, Rovers gained the upper hand and the travelling band of Hoops supporters only served to grow louder in song.

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Stephen Kenny celebrates with supporters after the game Stephen Kenny celebrates with the Lilywhites fans. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Just before the half hour, they were level. Sean O’Connor’s corner was headed down by Conor Kenna and McGuinness was there to poke the ball past stand-in keeper Gabriel Sava.

Within moments of the restart for the second half, the game changed and it was in Dundalk’s favour. Whatever Kenny had said at half time worked. Daryl Horgan’s corner was glanced in by Massey. A rare double for the left back and then just two minutes later, Pat Hoban rose unchallenged to head past Hyland. Again, it was a Horgan delivery.

That’s how it stayed until the 77th minute. Then, Stephen McPhail made tracks down the right and floated in a cross for substitute Ciaran Kilduff to head in from close range. It was to be a nervy, tense ending. But, Rovers never really tested Sava and in fact Richie Towell almost made it four for Dundalk but curled a late effort well side.

The Rovers fans inside Oriel didn’t hesitate to make a point of their dislike of ex-boss Stephen Kenny throughout the match but the man they sacked back in 2011 had the last laugh. He’ll take home that satisfaction and a fifth League Cup tonight.

DUNDALK: Gabriel Sava, Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Mark Rossiter (Andy Boyle, 84), Dane Massey, Ruaidhri Higgins (John Mountney, 79), Richie Towell, Keith Ward (Chris Shields, 46), Daryl Horgan, David McMillan, Patrick Hoban.

Substitutes: Peter Cherrie, Kurtis Byrne, Donal McDermott, Darren Meenan.

SHAMROCK ROVERS: Craig Hyland, Simon Madden, Conor Kenna, Jason McGuinness, Luke Byrne, Patrick Cregg, Sean O’Connor, Stephen McPhail, Kieran Marty Waters (Ciaran Kilduff, 69), Karl Sheppard (Dean Kelly, 80), Ronan Finn (Gary McCabe, 73).

Substitutes: Conor O’Malley, Robert Cornwall, Shane Robinson, Robert Bayly.

REFEREE: Graham Kelly (Cork)

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