St Patrick’s Athletic progressed to a second Leinster Senior Cup final in three seasons after a hard fought win over Dublin Rivals Shelbourne at Tolka Park on Monday night.
Christy Fagan opened the scoring goal on 19 minutes with a neat finish while Shels equalised on the stroke of half time thanks to an horrendous goalkeeping error from Rene Gilmartin. The introduction of former Cherry Orchard star Jack Bayly sparked the saints back to life and a link up between himself and Jake Kelly led to Fagan scoring his second of the night to send Pats through to the final.
Shelbourne had the first shot in anger seven minutes in when Darren Tinnelly cut in from the left and blazed high over Gilmartin’s bar. Pats had an attempt of their own four minutes later when Peter Hopkins played a free kick from near the end line to Jake Kelly who took a couple of touches before his shot was deflected wide.
In the 19th minute a mix up in the Shels defence allowed Daryl Kavanagh to get on the ball and, while his shot was blocked by Pat Flynn, the ball rebounded to Fagan who smashed the ball low past Burdon to put the league leaders in front.
Pats continued to dominate proceedings and Jake Kelly cut inside to shoot low through Gannon’s legs. But Burdon got down well to keep his side within touching distance.
Shels almost snuck home a equaliser on the half hour mark when Darren Tinnelly sent in a low cross which Dean Kelly latched onto and side-footed goal-wards. Gilmartin got down well to block but the rebound hit off the Shels skipper and rolled agonisingly wide.
Shels began to come more into the game and Dean Kelly’s free kick from the edge of the area.was superbly held by Gilmartin, the former Plymouth Argyle stopper. The Reds continued to pepper the Pat’s goal and Brian Gannon cut a dangerous ball into the six yard box which Gilmartin got a touch on, but it fell to Kelly and his first time volley looked destined for goal only for Gilmartin to once again deny the equaliser.
Gilmartin’s good work was all undone three minutes before the break when Garreth O’Connor waltzed unchallenged towards the edge of the box before unleashing a drive straight at the Pats ‘keeper which he attempted to parry. Unfortunately, he didn't get enough on it and the ball ended up in the back of the net, giving shels a deserved equaliser.
Shels where on top in the opening 15 minutes of the second period and a Darren Tinnelly corner was flicked on by a Saints defender which Dean Kelly headed goal wards. Gilmartin palmed it to safety and soon after St Pats had a chance of their own.
After some significant probing at the edge of the area by Daryl Kavanagh and Christy Fagan the ball fell to Jake Kelly who unleashing a strike that Burdon superbly got a hand to, keeping his side level.
Jack Bayly was introduced for St Pats just after the hour and he had an immediate impact, his through ball being latched onto by Jake Kelly. The winger squared it to Fagan as Burdon rushed out and the striker calmly slotted the ball into an empty net to renew the Saints’ lead.
Pats almost increased their lead moments later when a cross from Hopkins was met by Fagan, but his attempt was acrobatically stopped by former Rennes keeper Burdon to deny the Saints hitman a hat-trick.
Bayly, meanwhile, was enjoying his debut and almost created a third on 74 minutes when he slid the ball to Hopkins only for the young midfielder to smash the ball over from the edge of the area.
Sean Brennan came on to inject some quality to the Shels midfield and he came close to an equaliser ten minutes from time, picking the ball up on the left before switching it to fellow sub Adam Hanlon. The former Bray wide man broke into the area and cut the ball back for Brennan who met it to send it screeching inches wide of Gilmartin’s right hand post.
Bayly continued to be a menace going forward for Pats and three minutes from time he broke into the box, turned Pat Flynn, and flicked the ball past Andrews. He then squared the ball to an unmarked Fagan but he could not keep his shot down and it sailed over the bar.
Shelbourne did have one more chance to force extratime when Rob Cornwall lofted a long ball forward. It was met by the head of Andrews who’s header dipped just over the bar with Gilmartin beaten.
Shelbourne: Niall Burdon; Robert Cornwall, Pat Flynn, Jamie McGlynn, Paul Andrews; Brian Gannon, Stephen Sheerin (Adam Hanlon 65), Darren Tinnelly, Garreth O’Connor; Carl Walshe (Sean Brennan 72), Dean Kelly.
Subs not used: Charlie Treacy (GK), Ian Ryan, Stephen Hurley, Graham Gartland, Glen Cronin.
Booked: Kelly (27), Fitzgerald (84).
St Patrick’s Athletic: Rene Gilmartin; Conor Mahony (Stephen Dunne 70), Aidan Price, Sean Hoare, Sean Gannon ; Peter Hopkins (Tzee Mustapha 90), Tom Mulroney (Jack Bayly 63) , Lorcan Fitzgerald, Jake Kelly; Daryl Kavanagh; Christy Fagan.
Subs not used: Aaron Rochford (GK), Daniel Campbell, Sam Verdon, Gavin Byrne.
Booked: Kavanagh (49).
Referee: Rob Harvey.
Attendance: 350 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Christy Fagan (St Patricks Athletic).