Shelbourne’s Gavin Molloy celebrates scoring the first goal of the game with Shane Griffin and Sean Boyd. Ryan Byrne/INPHO
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Shelbourne set for first FAI Cup final since 2011 after early winner in Waterford

Damien Duff’s side will face Derry City in the decider.

Shelbourne 1

Waterford 0

SHELBOURNE WILL PLAY in the FAI Cup final for the first time since 2011 after an early goal from Gavin Molloy gave them a 1-0 victory over Waterford at the RSC on Sunday evening.

They will now face Derry City in November at the Aviva Stadium, a rematch of the 1997 decider which the Reds won 2-0.

The result also means that Damien Duff’s first season senior management will end on Lansdowne Road, at the site of some of his most famous moments in a green jersey.

Romance aside, the last time Shelbourne won a semi-final was in the Leinster Cup in 2018. They defeated Bluebell United 3-0 and went on to win the trophy, but that was a different team.

This side, who climbed out of the First Division and achieved safety under Duff, clearly wanted to make history on Sunday.

After surviving an early advance by the Blues, which ended in a cross from Darragh Power getting caught by Brendan Clarke, they settled down and dominated the game.

They first went for goal in the 11th minute and Sean Boyd’s ball bobbed narrowly wide of the target. The striker, who has four goals in this year’s FAI Cup, had two attempts from inside the area get blocked by Alex Baptiste.

It was all red in the blue half and the pressure paid off when Mattie Smith collected a pass in the centre of the pitch and ran five yards. The midfielder set the ball to Molloy and his first touch sent it across the face of goal and in.

Shelbourne took the lead in the 16 th minute and another opportunity went their way when the ball went to Boyd and he found himself facing Paul Martin.

The Waterford goalkeeper guessed correctly and put this out for a corner, which was sent out of play by a blue jersey. JJ Lunney’s second set piece of the game went to Luke Byrne and the defender hit the cross bar.

Shels closed out the half with a low cross from Shane Farrell finding John Ross Wilson and his attempt inside the area was blocked by Baptiste.

Waterford, who have already knocked St Patricks Athletic and Dundalk out of the cup this season, came out after the break with a new lease of life.

The team played on the front foot and they forced Shelbourne right back into their own half.

Phoenix Patterson was the driving force of their attack, and he almost scored from an in-swinging free-kick but this was put out for a corner by Clarke.

Good passing play also sent the ball to Griffin on the edge of the area. Just as he took a touch, he got surrounded in red jerseys and Shelbourne cleared their lines.

Waterford shouted for a penalty in the final second of injury time after a ball looked to have hit a hand inside the area, but referee Rob Hennessey waved this on.

Waterford FC: Paul Martin; Darragh Power, Niall O’Keeffe, Alex Baptiste, Shane Griffin (Richard Taylor 70), Raul Uche, Junior Quitirna, Tunmise Sobowale, Roland Idowu (Yassine En-Neyah 18), Killian Cantwell, Phoenix Patterson.

Shelbourne: Brendan Clarke; John Ross Wilson, Shane Griffin, JJ Lunney (Aodh Dervin 88), Mark Coyle, Sean Boyd, Mattie Smith, Shane Farrell (Jack Moylan 61), Gavin Molloy, Luke Byrne, Stephan Negru.

Referee: Rob Hennessy.

Dylan O'Connell
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