The 2018 season in the SSE Airtricity League began with the meeting of Cork City and Dundalk in the President’s Cup and it was expected that they would be the two sides to challenge for the title and that turned out to be the case. So it came as little surprise that the last game of the season the Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup Final was contested between the same two sides. Also, this is the third year in a row that the two have met in the cup final. Dundalk won in 2015 thanks to an extra-time goal from Richie Towell, Cork won in 2016 thanks to an extra-time goal from Seanie Maguire. So extra time was predictable except this year it was decided on penalties with Cork retaining the Cup adding it to the League title that they had already won. The sides had finished the game locked at 1-1 with, naturally, both goals coming in full time. Niclas Vemmelund gave Dundalk the lead in the first period of extra time. It was the Danish defender’s last game for the club as he had announced before the game that he wouldn’t be renewing his contract, he has been linked with a move to Rosenborg.
French striker Achille Campion equalised for Cork in the second period after a good through ball from Karl Sheppard. Sheppard is heavily linked with a move to Dundalk in the off season. And so the game went to penalties which on the whole was probably about right, Cork were the better side in the first half of normal time and Dundalk the better in the second but perhaps the most telling factor was that it was the Dundalk keeper Gary Rogers who was voted Man of the Match. In the shoot-out Cork won 5-3. Their keeper Mark McNulty saved the kick of Michael Duffy with Kieran Sadlier scoring the decisive kick. And so Cork do the double, in fact, it’s a treble as they won the aforementioned President’s Cup as well but as that is a competition that is only four years old it doesn’t have as much weight behind it yet. Such is the nature though of contracts in the League that the off season is nearly more interesting than the actual football. Along with Sheppard, midfielder Greg Bolger is also due to leave Cork with Shamrock Rovers his expected destination. Dundalk too are expected to lose a couple of players and will also be busy looking to bring players in. That though is to come and for the next few days the Cork players will enjoy their victory celebrations as will their supporters!