Shelbourne 1 Sligo Rovers 1 (Sligo win 4-1 on pens)
Ciaran Kelly proved Sligo Rovers cup final penalty hero once again as they retained their trophy in another dramatic finale at the Aviva Stadium tonight.
Kelly saved four spot kicks in last season’s decider and he worked the oracle once again coming on as a substitute in the final minute of extra-time.
It was a daring gamble by boss Paul Cook, but it paid off as Kelly saved penalties from Kevin Dawson and Colm James before Raffaele Cretaro shot home the winning spot kick.
The result was dreadfully harsh on Shelbourne who played for 90 minutes with ten men.
Sligo, without the injured Joseph Ndo, started well but were soon put out on the back foot by an eager Shels who had a shout for a handball against Gavin Peers waved away by referee Richie Winter early on.
But Alan Mathews' newly promoted side continued to trouble the holders and deservedly took the lead on the half hour.
First, though, Barry Clancy got in front of Sligo right-back Alan Keane to head a Brendan McGill cross off the bar minutes before.
A poor clearance from Sligo keeper Clarke was then returned promptly first time by John Sullivan. Philly Hughes was fully alert to pounce, racing through to touch the ball past Clarke for his 27th goal of the season.
A shocking decision six minutes later would over-shadow what was developing into an intriguing final.
Clancy, just booked for a foul on John Russell, was harshly sent off by Winter for diving, despite clear contact from Russell as he raced through onto Hughes’ pass.
Russell came within inches of levelling for Sligo in first-half stoppage time, his header from Aaron Greene’s cross shaving Dean Delaney’s crossbar.
Sligo didn’t have much longer to wait as they were level three minutes into the second half. Danny Ventre laid the ball off for the run of left-back Iarfhlaith Davoren whose terrific low drive beat Delaney at his near post.
If Delaney was at fault for the goal he made some amends on 61 minutes when standing up well to prevent substitute Matthews Blinkhorn form scoring with his first touch from Ryan’s clever free-kick.
Blinkhorn was in on goal again nine minutes later with Andy Boyle getting across to make a terrific block.
But try as they might, Sligo failed miserably to break down Shels who heroically forced extra-time. Before Kelly's heroics won it for Sligo