Cobh Ramblers 1 Dundalk 0
A Chris Hull goal 15 minutes from time saw Cobh Ramblers reach the EA Sports Cup final for the first time in the club’s history as they shocked holders Dundalk in yesterday’s semi-final at St Colman’s Park.
It was no more than Stephen Henderson’s side deserved. They were superior from start to finish as they belied their first division status, and afterwards an emotional Henderson was full of praise for his players.
“I thought the players were magnificent. We made a decision that we were going to press Dundalk high up the pitch and not give them any time on the ball.
We did that for 90 minutes; it wasn’t just the first half. The effort was magnificent but we looked decent when we had the ball and we created the best chances of the game.
Henderson said that his side would need luck if they were to shock Dundalk but they didn’t need any luck yesterday as they were the better side. “I thought we were the better team today, in terms of our work-rate, our organisation, our pressing, intercepting balls, winning second balls, and then our creativity on the ball. And then to see the game out like we did was fantastic.
If we could get the final down here in Cobh it would be brilliant. I think we had 5,000 people here years ago for a game against Cork City and we could get the same size crowd for a final against Derry.
After bowing out of the Europa League so tamely in Cyprus last week, Kenny resisted the temptation to field his strongest side again yesterday and made nine changes to the side that started in Larnaca, with only Daniel Cleary and Dylan Connolly starting again.
With a place in a cup final at stake, the young Ramblers’ side hardly needed any further motivation going into one of the biggest games in the clubs history. But Henderson’s side’s hopes would have been boosted when they saw the Dundalk line-up before kick-off.
Ramblers started the game the brighter of the two sides and David Hurley had a half chance early on only to see Gabriel Sava in the Dundalk goal was equal to it. The Dundalk keeper also easily gathered Shane O’Connor’s free-kick after 20 minutes.
Stephen Folan should have put the visitors in front in the 27th minute but he flashed a header from Dylan Connolly’s free-kick wide from eight yards. However, that was the only chance Dundalk had in a first half where Cobh’s tempo knocked them off their stride and forced them into making some elementary errors.
Henderson would have been proud of his players going in for the break as they more than held their own in the first half and the impressive Hurley was close to giving them the lead on the stroke of half-time but his effort from the edge of the box flew inches wide of Sava’s right hand post.
Kenny must have had a few choice words to say to his side at half-time and substitute Dean Jarvis went close with a volley in the 57th minute as Dundalk began to look a bit more interested.
Cobh were still snapping at their heels though and Sava had to save from Stephen Christopher as the first division side were still posing a threat when they attacked.
Dundalk failed to take heed of the threat posed and following another loose pass from Dean Massey, Christopher threaded a magnificent ball through to Hull and the striker made no mistake, expertly finishing past the outrushing Sava to spark wild celebrations amongst most of the 1,300 crowd.
A Mylod, Taylor, Walker, McSweeney, I Mylod, Fernandes, O’Riordan, O’Connor, Christopher, Hurley (Donnellan 88), Hull (Leonard 88).
Sava, Fitzsimons (Jarvis 45), Cleary, Folan, Massey, Mountney, Poynton, Chvedukas (O’Keeffe 77), Murray, Connolly, Byrne (McGrath 66).
S Grant (Wexford)