It was a break from league action last weekend in the SSE Airtricity League as it was the turn of the Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup to take centre stage as the First Round got underway. There were plenty of shocks, struggles and surprises as teams from all levels got their chance to test their mettle against each other. Non-league interest was strong as the preliminary round is solely for teams from Junior and Intermediate level and give the size of Ireland some of the intermediate teams in particular wouldn’t be far off the standard of First Division sides and in or two cases some pay their players more! I’m going to focus primarily on the games that involved sides from the Premier and First Divisions. The two standout games were the repeat of last year’s semi-finals as Cork City travelled to play Bray Wanderers in the Carlisle Grounds while Dundalk played host to Derry City. And true to form both games went the same way. Cork beat Bray 1-0 thanks to a goal from Kieran Sadlier. Dundalk beat Derry 4-0 in Oriel Park, John Mountney scored two with David McMillan and Michael Duffy getting one each. In what was an absolute cracker of a game in Finn Park, Finn Harps scored a dramatic injury time equaliser to take their tie against Bohemian FC to extra time before winning 4-3. Ah yes I should have mentioned that in order to free up the fixture list, the FAI have scrapped replays for the first two rounds of the FAI Cup, games are decided on the day.
As the game approached full time Bohs led 3-2 thanks to goals from Dinny Corcoran, Paddy Kavanagh and Derek Pender. Killian Cantwell and Sean Houston had scored for Harps. Houston levelled the game in the 94th minute with a penalty before Eddie Dsane got the winner for Ollie Horgan’s men in the first half of extra time. Sligo Rovers are out as they were beaten 4-2 after extra time by Longford Town. Daniel Kearns and Benny Igiehon scored for Rovers with Karl Chambers, Sam Verdon, Peter Hopkins and Kealan Dillon all scoring for Longford. After winning the Cup three times already this decade this is now the second year in a row that Rovers have fallen at the first hurdle. There was noticeable disquiet after the game among the Rovers faithful with Gerard Lyttle’s period of grace following on from his appointment a few months ago well and truly over. Shamrock Rovers, St. Patrick’s Athletic, Athlone Town and Drogheda United are all through to the second round as they had wins against non-league sides although Shamrock laboured to a 1-0 win against Glenville.
Galway United also beat non-league opposition but needed penalties to do so. Their game with Dublin side Killester United finished 3-3 after extra time and they eventually won 7-6 in the resulting shoot out. Crumlin United were the only non-league side to beat senior opposition as they won 2-1 away against Wexford. First Division leaders Waterford were surprisingly beaten 3-0 at home by Shelbourne, promotion to the Premier is obviously their priority. Garbhan Coughlan scored twice as Limerick won 3-0 away to Cobh Ramblers. Chiedozie Ogbene got their other goal. Cabinteely repeated their league win a few weeks ago against UCD beating the same opposition 3-1 to book their place in the next round. In all non-league affairs there wins for Cobh Wanderers, Bangor Celtic and Bluebell United who all join Crumlin in the draw for the second round which will be held in the next couple of weeks.