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Dublin: 3°C Wednesday 14 April 2021

Dundalk overcome Longford to reach FAI Cup final

13 years after their last cup triumph, Dundalk are back in Irish football’s showpiece event.

Longford's Stephen Rice with Daryl Horgan of Dundalk.
Longford's Stephen Rice with Daryl Horgan of Dundalk.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Dundalk 2-0 Longford Town

13 YEARS AFTER their last FAI Cup triumph, Dundalk are back in Irish football’s showpiece final. Goals from Paddy Barratt and Ronan Finn ensured Stephen Kenny’s men are the first side to make the 8 November date at the Aviva Stadium. Whether they face Bray or Cork, they will go into the game overwhelming favourites.

For one of the country’s most successful and biggest regional sides to fail to make an FAI Cup final appearance in that length of time, it will be a belated returned to the stage but one that will cap an extraordinary last two years in Dundalk.

The cup double is very much on now, with the league title nothing but a formality now. After last year’s league and EA Sports Cup wins, this will represent an upgrade — the FAI Cup is the one that they want.

The last time Longford visited Oriel Park back in August, Tony Cousins’ side came away with a very commendable scoreless draw in the league. In fact, they are the only side to have shut Dundalk out in the league en route their now inevitable title success.

With a chance to line out at Lansdowne Road up for grabs, they started brightly. On the visitors left flank Kaleem Simon gave Sean Gannon no respite in an energetic first-half display.

When the draw was made, Cousins admitted his team were handed the most difficult draw imaginable — Dundalk, away. After his side failed to make anything of their quick start, the writing was on the wall.

Ciaran Kilduff latched onto a good ball from Gannon before firing his shot across the goal and wide after just five minutes. Richie Towell curled a 25 yard free kick just over the bar early on too, while for Longford, Andy Boyle blocked midfielder Rhys Gorman’s shot.

On the half-hour mark, Towell somehow managed to manoeuvre himself some space amidst a crowd of bodies on the edge of the Town area. His shot beat Paul Skinner but not the crossbar and bounced away.

At this point, Longford were threatening going forward too but Dundalk did make the breakthrough six minutes later. From Daryl Horgan’s corner, Paddy Barratt found himself free in the area and planted a header into the top corner.

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Barratt was a surprise inclusion in the starting line-up after it emerged that regular centre back Brian Gartland had picked up a quad injury. The issue is not expected to keep him out for long, but his replacement made a fine impression.

Gartland is a big attacking threat for the Lilywhites, scoring 16 goals over the past two campaigns. Barratt filled his boots in more way than one here.

The second goal arrived four minutes after the restart. After collecting a ball from Horgan, Ronan Finn turned and shot only to see his effort loop off the back of Pat Sullivan and in. Skinner was totally wrong-footed.

It completed a miserable night for the experienced Sullivan, who was the defender on the line that couldn’t stop Barratt’s first-half opener.

The second half was a damp squib once Dundalk had established their two-goal advantage. Only Gary Shaw’s late shot troubled Gary Rogers while only Dane Massey’s free-kick went in any way close to stretching the lead. The majority of the bumper crowd of 3,526 won’t care a jot. They, and many more from the region, are off to the Aviva.

DUNDALK: Gary Rogers, Sean Gannon, Paddy Barratt, Andy Boyle, Dane Massey, Stephen O’Donnell, Richie Towell, Ronan Finn (Chris Shields, 75), John Mountney (Darren Meenan, 42), Daryl Horgan, Ciaran Kilduff (David McMillan, 81).

Subs Not Used: Gabriel Sava, Shane Grimes, Kurtis Byrne, Sean Maguire.

LONGFORD TOWN: Paul Skinner, Noel Haverty, Pat Sullivan, Rhys Gorman, Conor Powell, Lorcan Shannon (Martin Deady, 86), Mark
Salmon (David O’Sullivan, 60), Stephen Rice, Philip Gannon, Kaleem Simon (Jamie Mulhall, 66), Gary Shaw.

Subs Not Used: Paul Hunt, Keith Beirne, Mark Rossiter.

REFEREE: Paul McLaughlin

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About the author:

Barry Landy

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