Left-back Massey was Dundalk’s unlikely hero with two goals in a roller coaster final at Oriel Park that could have gone either way. Going out of he FAI Ford Cup to Rovers in last Monday’s quarter-final replay ended any treble talk. And even had they lost this final, Massey says their main focus of bringing a first league title to the club in 19 years remains undiminished.
“If we had lost there would have been a bit more pressure for us to go out and win it,” said Massey of clinching the title. “But all we can do now is go on and win our last five games. It’s in our hands and I don’t thinkanyone is going to take it off us.”
Massey gave Dundalk the perfect start when curling a free-kick up and over the wall and into the net off the underside of Craig Hyland’s crossbar on four minutes.
Rovers deservedly equalised just before the half-hour. Luke Byrne won a header from Sean O’Connor’s corner and fellow defender Jason McGuinness pounced to stab home the loose ball.
Out of sorts in the first half, Dundalk boss Stephen Kenny had some choice words with his players at the interval as they came out transformed, blitzing Rovers with two goals inside four minutes.
Daryl Horgan put over their first corner of the game and Massey beat a static Hyland with a header to the bottom corner.
Scarcely had Rovers drawn breath when further negligent defending from another corner gave Dundalk their third goal; Patrick Hoban looping a header to the top corner from Ruaidhri Higgins’s delivery.
Rovers pulled a goal back on 76 minutes from the move of the match. Stephen McPhail played a one-two with Karl Sheppard down the inside-right channel to cross for substitute Ciaran Kilduff to head home.
But Dundalk held out for what they will hope is only their first taste of glory this season.
“That’s massively important for us, especially after last Monday night,” added Massey on winning his first senior medal.
“So we went out hungry to win it and we got over the line. Hopefully now we can drive on and win the league.”
Sava; Gannon, Gartland, Rossiter (Boyle 84), Massey; Ward (Shields 46), Higgins (Mountney 79), Towell, Horgan; McMillan; Hoban.
Hyland; Madden, Kenna, McGuinness, Byrne; Cregg; S. O’Connor, Finn (McCabe 73), McPhail, Waters (Kilduff 69); Sheppard (Kelly 80).
Graham Kelly (Cork).