Patrick McEleney's 104th-minute strike eventually helped Dundalk into the second round of the FAI Cup. It wasn’t without good fortune, as his effort deflected beyond Tadhg Ryan to prevent any hopes of a Treaty United upset.
Twelve-time champions and Cup-holders Dundalk were pushed all the way by the League’s newest club, in their first-ever outing the competition.
For Tommy Barrett and Treaty, 2021 has been a remarkable story, and one of overachievement. He recalled the strong Clyde O’Connell into midfield and handed a first competitive start to recent signing Stephen Christopher. They had just one defeat at the Markets Field all season and it was easy to see why. Their disciplined shape and work rate was more than enough to stifle their full-time opposition for over 100 minutes.
Dundalk’s pressing early on caused Treaty problems, but so often Anthony O’Donnell’s willingness in the air has got the Limerick side out of trouble. He commanded a back-four that was forced to change personnel once again, with Charlie Fleming missing out and midfielder Ed McCarthy deputising at full-back.
Vinny Perth made four changes from the side that drew with Levadia on Thursday, conscious, perhaps, of the possible fixture pile-up coming the Lilywhites way. They travel to Estonia later this week for the second leg of that UEFA Europa Conference League clash.
Han Jeongwoo was one of those changes for Dundalk, and it was the winger who went close early on, drawing a fine stop from Ryan with a left-footed effort. Also, into the line-up for Vinny Perth, were Cameron Dummigan, Sean Murray and Greg Sloggett.
Joel Coustrain, cutting in from the left, sent a curling effort towards the top corner. It drew a routine save from Alessio Abibi. Coustrain limped out of this contest on 40 minutes.
McEleney was summoned from the bench, along with Will Patching, on the hour mark and the Derry native was influential immediately. The duo ensured that He forced Ryan into a quality save from distance before sending a right-footed effort narrowly wide from the same distance just three minutes later. Daniel Kelly had also gone close before being withdrawn by Perth.
Will Patching’s free-kick was pushed around the post by Ryan in the final action of note in the second half.
The first action of the extra-time saw midfielder Joe Collins tired his luck from distance and Abibi equal to it, at the cost of a corner.
McEleney’s breakthrough came via a deflected shot which went agonisingly into the corner with Ryan stranded.
Anthony O’Donnell received a straight red card for a forceful challenge on Han Jeongwoo with eight minutes remaining. Treaty did create half openings from here, but nothing to trouble Abibi and his compact defence.
Ryan; McCarthy, Walsh, O’Donnell, Ludden; Coustrain (Keane 40), Lynch (McNamara 75), O’Connell (Collins 74), McSweeney (Murphy 91), Christopher (Armshaw 68); Hanlon (McKevitt 67).
Abibi; Jurkovskis (Nattestad 95), Dummigan, Boyle ©, Leahy; Murray (McEleney 59), Sloggett, Stanton (Patching 60); Kelly (Adeokun 73), McMillian, Jeongwoo.