- Sunday November 28th, 2021 @ 19:20
FAI Cup Final Report:
St Patrick's Athletic are the 2021 FAI Cup champions.
It was a magical night on Dublin's South side after The Saints came through a gruelling 120 minutes of football against their Dublin rivals and they converted four out of five penalties to ensure the cup came back to Inchicore for the first time in seven years.
Chris Forrester's magical opener just before half time in extra time gave The Saints a priceless lead but Rory Feely struck back just after the break in extra time. Viteszlav Jaros pulled off two wonderful late saves to deny Ross Tierney a winner to take it to extra time. Four perfect penalties from Ronan Coughlan, Billy King, Jay McClelland and Robbie Benson, as well as a tremenduous Jaros save was enough to seal victory and claim the silverware.
It was a special occassion and with the atmosphere magical, the roar from both sets of fans as the teams stepped out on the pitch was certainly heard across the capital.
St Patrick's Athletic travelled to The Aviva in search of their first FAI Cup win since 2014 and it was the man who scored the winner in that infamous game in 2014, Christy Fagan who was inducted into the Hall of Fame just before the game.
It was a nervy start with many misplaced passes but both sides did had half chances early on. Ross Tierney managed to find a bit of space inside the St Pats box but the Bohs man was unable to find the target as his poked shot drifted well wide of the target.
A couple of minutes later at the other end, James Talbot's mis-hit his clearance and it fell to Ian Bermingham on the left. The Saints captain hit it first time but his connection was poor and he glided it well wide of the target.
Liam Burt went close for Bohs 18 minutes in when he unleashed a shot from outside the area, but Vitezslav Jaros was on hand and he got down well to save the effort. Moments later Georgie Kelly hit the side netting when Ali Coote played him in but the former Saint drilled his shot into the side of Jaros' goal.
St Pats enjoyed plenty of possession the early exchanges and they put some decent passages of play together but struggled to create any clear cut opportunities for themselves. Chris Forrester's header came close when Talbot came to collect an Alfie Lewis header but it glided over him and Forrester connected with his head but it flew well over the bar.
The first real chance of the first half fell to the men from Inchicore in the 35th minute. Chris Forrester played a ball in field to Robbie Benson on the edge of the area. Benson knocked it back to Jamie Lennon who did well under pressure to get free before playing a neat one-two with Benson again. However, his left footed shot across the face of the goal was well saved by Bohs goalkeeper Talbot with the ball subsequently cleared from the resulting corner.
Forrester went close again minutes later when Benson picked him out in the box but his shot was hit straight at Talbot again as he got down comfortably to claim.
Just before half-time, Paddy Barrett almost played Forrester in again with a wonderful cross field pass but it was inches over the 28 year old's head and it proved to be the final action of the half as Rob Hennessy's half time whistle ended a cagey first half affair.
Bohs had a glorious opportunity to go in front 59 minutes in. Ali Coote effort from close range was heroically blocked by Lee Desmond and the ricochet fell into the path of Georgie Kelly but the latter's effort was saved by the shoulders of Jaros who didn't know much about it after it had sailed through a number of bodies in the penalty area.
There were half chances at the other end for Darragh Burns who had two efforts blocked and Matty Smith's deflected volley also sailed well over, but for much of the second half, chances were few and far between.
As we approached the full time whistle in the capital, both sides did have opportunities to grab the winner. Jay McClelland's ball into the danger area was close to picking out Darragh Burns at the back post but it was millimetres too far while it was a similar story at the other end when Stephen Mallon's delivery into the penalty area had substitute Promise Omochere at full stretch but he was also millimetres away from connecting with the ball.
However neither team could find a winner as we headed for extra time at a bitterly cold Aviva Stadium.
The chances in extra time were also limited with both sides looking nervous. Ronan Coughlan had a glorious opportunity just before half time of extra time. He played a beautiful one-two with Billy King which set him free on goal but Talbot was quick off his line again and Coughlan couldn't direct his shot away from the Bohs shot stopper.
It wasn't long after Coughlan's chance that the Saints finally found the breakthrough. Chris Forrester broke at pace from the halfway line and the Dubliner had options left and right but he went alone and his low shot flew past Talbot to give The Saints a priceless lead with just 15 minutes of extra time left to play.
However, Bohs struck back immediately after the resumption of play. Rory Feely's run to the near post paid dividends and the former St Pats player headed home from close range from a Keith Ward corner to level proceedings.
Buckley was again the provider 10 minutes later when he played a neat ball in behind the Saints' defence to Ross Tierney, but Tierney made the angle too tight for himself and he hit the ball straight at Jaros who saved comfortably.
With just two minutes remaining, Tierney went close again for the Phibsborough side. Mallon turned Bermingham and Mallon's cross found Tierney who almost grabbed the winner but for an acrobatic save from Jaros. Keith Ward took the subsequent corner and Jaros pulled off another terrific save with the rebound falling straight to Rory Feely and it looked as if he had gotten his second of the game but Jak Hickman cleared off the line of a very relieved St Pats defence.
The Saints held on and after 120 minutes of football and a lot of cramping legs, penalties were on the horizon.
St Pats won the toss and the penalties were to be taken in front of The magnificent Saints fans, who by this stage must have been short of a voice after 120 minutes of constant singing. Dawson Devoy stepped forward first and he sent Jaros the wrong way with the first penalty.
Ronan Coughlan stepped up for St Pats and he coolly dispatched past Talbot to level it.
Conor Levingston and Billy King both traded penalties for their respective sides.
Stephen Mallon stepped up to convert his penalty and when Chris Forrester's penalty was expertly saved by Talbot, it was advantage Bohs.
Tyreke Wilson had a chance to put Bohs ahead but Jaros brilliantly saved his effort and when Jay McClelland converted, it was all square again.
Keith Ward stepped up and his penalty cannoned off the crossbar to leave it all up to Robbie Benson. The St Pats faithful held their breath as the former Dundalk man took his run up, but he showed his experience as he booted the ball home to ensure the trophy headed back to Inchicore for the first time since 2014 and take the Saints to the promised land once again on a memorable night on Lansdowne Road.
St Patrick's Athletic: Jaros; Bone (Hickman, 95), Desmond, Barrett (Abankwah, 81), Bermingham; Burns, Lennon (King, 60), Lewis (Coughlan, 96), Benson, Forrester; Smith (McClelland, 75). Subs not used: Murphy (GK), Nwoko, Melvin-Lambert, Griffin.
Bohemians James Talbot, Andy Lyons, Rob Cornwall, CiarÃƒÆ'Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€ Ã¢€â„¢ÃƒÆ'Ã¢€Â ÃƒÂ¢€Ã¢â€žÂ¢ÃƒÆ'Ã†â€™ÃƒÂ¢€Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ'Ã¢€Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¡n Kelly (Rory Feely, 75), Tyreke Wilson; Ali Coote (Stephen Mallon, 85), Keith Buckley (Conor Levingston, 105) Dawson Devoy, Ross Tierney, Liam Burt (Keith Ward, 102); Georgie Kelly (Promise Omochere, 61).
Subs not used: Stephen McGuinness (GK), Anto Breslin, James Finnerty, Jamie Mullins.
Referee: Rob Hennessy