It was a big weekend of cup action in the SSE Airtricity League with the quarter-finals of the Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup taking centre stage meaning a weekend off for the rest of the clubs. There were three games played on Friday night with the other taking place on Saturday evening and sadly none were televised, very hard to stress the importance of the FAI Cup when not one game was broadcast live. Dundalk who have a great cup pedigree in recent seasons played host to their close rivals Drogheda United in Oriel Park. Stephen Kenny’s side last won this competition in 2015 and were beaten finalists last season. They have recent history with their Louth county men as these sides last met in the cup in an ill-tempered semi-final in 2013 which Drogheda won 1-0 and Dundalk finished with nine players and at one stage Kenny was that aggrieved with the referring that he contemplated taking his side off the pitch! Friday’s game though was a more straightforward affair as Dundalk were comfortable 4-0 winners. Michael Duffy, Dylan Connolly, Brian Gartland and David McMillan got their goals.
Shamrock Rovers also hit four as they beat the last remaining non-league side Bluebell United 4-2 in the Tallaght Stadium. Brandon Miele bagged a hat-trick with Ryan Connolly getting the other. Gary Seery and Shane Stritch scored for Bluebell who finished with ten as Tony Griffiths was sent off in the second half. That was the perfect preparation for Shamrock who will now face Dundalk this coming Saturday in the final of the EA Sports Cup which is the SSE Airtricity League equivalent of the League Cup. That game will be played in Tallaght. Limerick FC are through to their first cup semi-final since 1994 after they beat Galway United 2-1 in Eamon Deacy Park. In a match between two sides battling relegation, the cup must have been a welcome distraction. Rodrigo Tosi and Shane Duggan scored for Limerick with Padraic Cunningham pulling a goal back for Galway. The holders Cork City secured their place thanks to a fairly routine 4-1 against First Division side Longford Town in City Calling Stadium. Karl Sheppard scored two with Kieran Sadlier and Jimmy Keohane getting one apiece. Longford’s goal was an o.g. from Robbie Williams. The draw for the semi-finals was made on Monday evening and is as follows:
Cork City vs. Limerick FC, Friday September 29th, 19:15pm
Dundalk vs. Shamrock Rovers, Sunday October 1st, 16:45pm
And finally, as it would feel wrong not to have a mention of Sligo Rovers they were to have played Athlone Town on Saturday in a friendly but that was cancelled by Athlone at their request. This may have been because the long awaited hearing into the match fixing allegations that have surrounded Athlone was held on Thursday. Following this, Igors Labuts and Dragos Sfrijan received 12-month bans. Athlone are to appeal this and have the support of the PFAI who feel that these two players have been made scapegoats. This whole affair has yet to run its course.