Pats book place in cup decider with victory over Dundalk

The Lilywhites look to be without European football next season.

St. Patrick's Athletic's Darragh Burns celebrates scoring his side’s third goal.
St. Patrick's Athletic's Darragh Burns celebrates scoring his side’s third goal.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

St Patrick’s Athletic 3

Dundalk 1

A MATTY SMITH strike worthy of the occasion set St Patrick’s Athletic on their way to a first FAI Cup final in seven years on Friday tonight.

The Scot latched onto a sublime through-ball from the electric Darragh Burns and produced a strike to match to set up a Dublin Derby at the Aviva against Bohemians.

Saints had seen their lead reined in once already after Patrick Hoban capitalised on a rare error from James Abankwah to cancel out Billy King’s opener.

The Athletic weren’t to be denied a second time as Stephen O’Donnell’s tactical switches allowed them to see the goal out before Burns sealed the win with another spectacular finish.

Fans flooded the pitch at the final whistle to celebrate with a Saints side who were thoroughly deserving of a win that leaves Dundalk perilously close to missing out on Europe next season.

For 45 minutes, the game showed little of the pulsating spectacle it would become as a tense opening half was opened up only by a goal apiece contributable to unforced errors.

The holders looked marginally the better side in the opening quarter as Sean Murray and Hoban found the side netting and the back of the stand respectively.

A loose pass from Greg Sloggett offered Scottish winger the chance to open the scoring before the half hour, although Peter Cherrie should have saved a shot that was straight at him.

Lee Desmond headed wide from a brilliant Daniel Clearly goal-line clearance, while Chris Forrester hit the side netting as Pats took control.

They were stung just before the break as Abankwah mis-controlled with his chest and Will Patching took full advantage, releasing Hoban to rifle home from close range.

Dundalk had the better of the opening exchanges in the second half but it was a liquid move from front to back that saw them regain the lead.

Jak Hickman found Burns down the right and the winger stepped inside before threading through a wonderful pass that Smith smashed past Cherrie into the top corner.

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Ian Bermingham was unfortunate not to add a third as his chip just evaded the post, and Dundalk began to take more risks as they chased an equaliser.

Liverpool loaner Vitezslav Jaros had little to do in the Saints goal but he was on top form to top over a spectacular Oatchjg volley.

And it was left to substitute Burns to make sure of the victory late on as he was played through by Smith and he was the calmest man in Inchicore, waiting for Cherrie to go to ground before dinking the ball into the corner of the net

St Patrick’s Athletic: Vitezslav Jaros; Lee Desmond, Paddy Barrett, James Abankwah (Jak Hickman 46); Darragh Burns (Shane Griffin 89), Jamie Lennon (Robbie Benson 64), Alfie Lewis, Ian Bermingham; Chris Forrester (Jay McClelland 78), Billy King (Ronan Coughlan 78), Matty Smith.

Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; Cameron Dummigan (Raivis Jurkovskis 78), Daniel Clearly, Andy Boyle, Darragh Leahy; Sam Stanton (Sami Ben Amar 87), Greg Sloggett (Daniel Kelly 72), Will Patching; Sean Murray (David McMillan 78), Michael Duffy, Patrick Hoban.

Referee: Neil Doyle.

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