It was all about the semi-finals of the Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup this weekend as holders Cork City played host to Munster rivals Limerick FC while last years beaten finalists Dundalk took on Shamrock Rovers in Oriel Park. For the supporters of Cork it was a week of mixed emotions as last Monday they took on Dundalk in a league encounter in Turner’s Cross. A win would have seen the home side crowned Premier Division champions and it seemed as if that would be the case when an own goal from Brian Gartland gave Cork a first half lead. However Robbie Benson equalised for Dundalk and Cork’s wait is prolonged but still they only need two points from their remaining four games. So it was on Friday night that they were back in the Cross against a Limerick team who had beaten them in the League the week previous. Again Cork took an early lead through a Garry Buckley goal but this time they held out despite a spirited effort from Limerick who will now be looking to concentrate on retaining their top flight status. That win for Cork now means that the double is a very real possibility and also it made it three years in a row that the Leesiders have reached the Cup Final.
It also means that 4th place in the League will now qualify for the Europa League which will add extra incentive for a number of sides heading into the last few weeks of the season. Cork though will have to wait to find out who they will face as Dundalk and Shamrock drew 1-1 on Sunday afternoon. The last two cup finals have been between Dundalk and Cork and it seems inevitable that we are heading for a three-peat but Shamrock are looking to claim their 25th cup victory a wait which is now over 30 years. Benson gave the home side a lead but Dundalk were made to rue a succession of missed chances as Shamrock levelled through Brandon Miele. Shamrock finished with ten when David McAllister was sent off with fourteen minutes to go as he received his second yellow for a tackle on Dundalk captain Chris Shiels. Shiels injured his medial ligament and will be out now for the rest of the season. Dundalk still have a chance of a cup double as they have already won the EA Sports Cup this season. The replay is fixed for Tuesday 10th October at 8pm in the Tallaght Stadium.
By contrast just about twenty minutes up the road it was a weekend of desolation for Dundalk’s neighbours Drogheda United as their Louth rivals had their relegation confirmed when they were beaten 2-1 by Derry City in McGinn Park in what was the only Premier Division fixture played. Goals from Conor McDermot and Ronan Curtis put Derry two up before Mark Doyle pulled a goal back in stoppage time. Derry are now in fourth with European qualification a real possibility but for Drogheda the rebuilding process now begins.