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McEleney's moment of magic ends UCD's FAI Cup adventure at semi-final stage

Dundalk are heading to the Aviva Stadium again, as they set their sights on the double.

Dundalk 1

UCD 0

Caoimhín Reilly reports from Oriel Park

DUNDALK PROGRESSED THROUGH to a fourth successive FAI Cup final tonight as UCD’s giant-killing adventure was brought to an end at Oriel Park.

Patrick McEleney celebrates scoring the first goal of the game McEleney celebrates his winning goal. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The 1984 winners came with a gameplan and carried it out effectively for much of a lifeless opening half — and contest, in general — before Patrick McEleney scored another special goal, rocketing an effort to the top corner from the edge of the area.

Coming just four minutes from the break, it put pay to any thoughts of an upset as Dundalk’s double dream took a significant step towards becoming a reality.

The Foylesider was the game’s outstanding player and worthy of the man of the match award, having always looked the likeliest to pick UCD’s stiff defensive lock.

But there was an inevitability about proceedings, even when the Lilywhites were creating so little.

Collie O’Neill’s men, for so long, were non-existent as an attacking threat, focusing their attentions on keeping it tight; a tactic which McEleney bypassed with his sensational strike.

Their only genuine effort on goal across the 90 minutes saw Gary O’Neill force Gary Rogers to tip away his free-kick, but he did so fairly comfortably. A late spell of pressure having come too late to save their Aviva dreams.

Dundalk will discover their opponents for the 4 November final on Sunday, when Bohemians take on Cork City.

Gary O'Neill reacts to a missed chance Gary O'Neill reacts to a missed chance. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

They should have Daniel Cleary available for that match when the defender ought to have seen red in the first half tonight, having launched himself recklessly into a challenge with Conor Davis, skewing over the top of the ball and into contact with the UCD man’s leg.

He was fortunate to receive only a caution from referee Robert Hennessey, who later waved away Seán Gannon’s strong plea for a penalty.

Patrick Hoban thrice forced Conor Kearns into action in the second half, while UCD huffed with little puff. Rearguard action was in short supply, in truth, not that the Lilywhites were overly bothered.

Lansdowne Road awaits Stephen Kenny’s juggernaut.

Dundalk FC: Gary Rogers; Seán Gannon, Brian Gartland, Daniel Cleary, Dane Massey; Chris Shields, Robbie Benson (Dean Jarvis 90); John Mountney (Jamie McGrath 76), Patrick McEleney, Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban

UCD: Conor Kearns; Dan Tobin (Yoyo Mahdy 87), Josh Collins, Liam Scales, Paul Doyle; Greg Sloggett, Gary O’Neill; Neil Farrugia, Timmy Molloy (Dáire O’Connor 82), James McClelland; Conor Davis

Referee: Robert Hennessey (Limerick).

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About the author:

Caoimhín Reilly

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