Shamrock Rovers hunt for their first FAI Cup win in nine years remains alive as they sealed a first final in eight years with a 2-0 win over Bohemians in an ill-tempered derby at Dalymount Park.
Goals from Graham Burke and Aaron Greene sealed a well-deserved win for the Hoops in a game that saw Ireland under-21 star Danny Mandroiu sent off for an ugly tackle on Sean Kavanagh.
Mandroiu, who scored a stunning winner when Bohs last won here in June, was only passed fit after missing a number of games with an injury picked up in Ireland under-21s’ win in Sweden.
There were further surprises in the starting line-ups as Bohs striker Andre Wright and Rovers’ defender Joey O’Brien, both declared injured during the week, took their places on the field.
Kick-off was delayed by five minutes to allow the pitch to be cleared of smoke and expired flares as both sets of fans waved pyrotechnics and smoke bombs before the game.
When the whistle was finally blown, the game began at a ferocious tempo that didn’t let up throughout the entire first half, which predictably scrappy results.
Rovers had the first chance of note as former Gypsies striker Greene, who was controversially sent off in the first game here in March, tested James Talbot with a low drive.
It was Greene’s determination to run the channel and beat Bohs left-back Paddy Kirk to the ball that yielded the Hoops’ first corner of the game after five minutes.
Jack Byrne clipped a corner in towards the near edge of the six-yard box where Burke managed to evade the attention of Kirk.
The on-loan Preston North End striker, arcing back towards his own goal, directed a simply magnificent header towards the near post, where Keith Buckley had abandoned his station.
The visiting fans behind the goal went wild and a sea of green flares sprung up once more and there was another lengthy delay as fire officials again cleared the pitch of debris. If anything, the intermission helped Bohs as it gave the shell-shocked home side time to regroup and gather their thoughts.
It took until the 14th minute for the Gypsies to produce a chance but Ryan Graydon, who has earned his spot since coming into the team as injury cover, found Wright but he headed over.
Graydon showed good strength and pace to shake off the challenge of Sean Kavanagh in the box but, from a narrow angle, he couldn’t force the ball past Mannus.
Smart footwork from Aaron McEneff saw Rovers go close shortly afterwards but, having cut inside Derek Pender, he also shot straight at Talbot.
Bohs had a big appeal for a penalty just after the hour as Mandroiu skipped through. Gary O’Neill needed his tackle to be inch-perfect and the former UCD captain was spot-on.
Byrne, who had been relatively quiet by his standards since the goal, showed evidence of his dancing feet before half time but, off balance, his low shot was easily saved by Talbot.
The second half was poor by comparison and, despite Bohs having more of the ball, Rovers went closest through Greene and a Byrne free kick.
It sprang to life with 20 minutes remaining when Keith Buckley was caught in possession in his own final third and Byrne played in Burke.
The striker looked to have doubled his tally with a delightful dink over Talbot from the tightest of angles, but Kirk somehow managed to head the ball over the bar from virtually 180 degrees.
Bohs’ slim chances were extinguished when Mandroiu, who had become increasingly frustrated as his influence dimmed, was dismissed for a shocking lunge that left Kavanagh writhing.
Greene settled the tie moments later as captain Ronan Finn zipped in a low cross that Greene directed into the roof of the net to edge Rovers closer to a record 25th cup title.
BOHEMIANS: Talbot; Pender, Cornwall, Finnerty, Kirk; Buckley (Tierney 73), Allardice (Levingston 63), Mandroiu; Graydon (Ward 75), Grant, Wright.
SHAMROCK ROVERS: Mannus; O’Brien, Lopes, Grace, Kavanagh; O’Neill, McEneff, Byrne; Finn (Lafferty 85), Burke (Bolger 88), Greene (Cummins 90+1).
Referee: Rob Hennessy