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Ryan Byrne/INPHO Athlone's Dean George grabbed a hat-trick today.
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George heroics set up first Cup semi for Athlone in 22 years
Hat trick from Dean George fires Midlanders into the FAI Cup semis after they shock Shelbourne 4-1.

NO ONE SAW this coming. Certainly Shelbourne didn’t. The Premier Division side came into this tie with genuine hopes of making it to the last four. They left after conceding four.

No surprises for who the hero of the day was. Dean George grabbed a hat-trick, sending Athlone to their first FAI Cup semi-final since Liam Buckley was in charge, way back in 1998.

And they deserved it. Taking the lead after four minutes, when George converted a cross, they then suffered a mini-crisis of confidence when Ciaran Kilduff – the hero of Dundalk’s Europa League run back in 2016, grabbed the equaliser.

Normal service was expected to resume.

No one, however, told Athlone.

In particular, no one told Scott Delaney who put Town back in front with a goal from a corner on 20 minutes.

Trailing, Shels sent for the big men – Karl Sheppard introduced as a sub.

Yet even he could not prevent George from having the biggest day of his career, the hat-trick hero scoring his second on 66 minutes, before the best goal of the day was saved to the end, when he grabbed his third with a superb 80th minute strike. Athlone meet the winners of Dundalk and Bohemians in the semis.

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Athlone Town: Aaron Myles; Tumelo Tlou, Scott Delaney, Ciaran Grogan, David Brookes; Mark Birrane, Taner Dogan (Jordan Carroll 90+4); Adam Lennon (Evan White 90+1), Ronan Manning, Jack Reynolds; Dean George (Sheen Nealon 90) 

Shelbourne: Jack Brady; Aidan Friel (Daniel O’Reilly 71), Oscar Brennan, Dan Byrne, Alex O’Hanlon (Aaron Dobbs 71); Gary Deegan, Mark Byrne; Denzil Fernandes (Karl Sheppard h-t), Ryan Brennan (Shane Farrell 61), Dayle Rooney (Karl Moore 61); Ciaran Kilduff. 

Referee: Damien MacGraith (Mayo).

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