DFC | Dundalk caught out as Miele’s late goal secures Rovers a replay in Tallaght

FAI Cup Semi-Final | Dundalk FC 1–1 Shamrock Rovers

Robbie Benson celebrates after putting Dundalk ahead against Shamrock Rovers. PICTURE: BEN MCSHANE

Brandon Miele’s equaliser means that Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers will have to do it all over again at Tallaght Stadium on Tuesday week to determine who meets Cork City in this year’s FAI Cup final.

Robbie Benson put Dundalk in front after nine minutes, steering home the Lilywhites’ 100th goal of the campaign to give Stephen Kenny’s side a half-time lead at Oriel Park.

Rovers, though, bossed much of the second-half, creating a number of chances, and Miele’s goal always looked like it was on the cards when it arrived with just over quarter of an hour to play.

David McAllister left his teammates to play out the final 13 minutes with ten men after a horrendous tackle on Chris Shields but Rovers held on and will feel they have the advantage going into the rematch on October 10th.

Dundalk winger Dylan Connolly runs at Shamrock Rovers’ Luke Byrne. PICTURE: BEN MCSHANE

There were fireworks before a ball was even kicked with the Rovers fans hurling flares onto the pitch as the teams emerged. A couple of them caught fire, burning holes into the artificial pitch, and leaving a couple of very noticeable scorch marks behind.

That only added fuel to an already crackling atmosphere and Dundalk almost exploded into an early lead after just four minutes when Dylan Connolly made a yard of space on Luke Byrne to pick out Patrick McEleney at the near post but he couldn’t hit the target.

The early pressure told five minutes later as the natives side drew first blood with a brilliantly worked team goal.

Stephen O’Donnell was instrumental, playing passes with McEleney, Sean Gannon and then David McMillan before surging into the Rovers box. The skipper lifted his head, squaring the ball for Michael Duffy who left it for the incoming Benson to sweep past Tomer Chencinski into the bottom corner.

Dundalk tried to ram home their advantage by attacking in waves and Connolly, who looked a threat every time he got the ball, was denied by a last-ditch Luke Byrne block after good approach work by Michael Duffy on the opposite flank.

Things eventually calmed down and Rovers settled into it with Lee Grace going close to meeting a Miele free-kick from the right after Trevor Clarke found joy against Niclas Vemmelund, a recurring theme in the opening 45 minutes.

Stephen Bradley’s side improved as the half wore on and McAllister was unlucky not to set Clarke through the middle with an incisive pass that just carried too much weight. Miele then saw a vicious deflected free-kick from the right turned around the post by Gary Rogers.

It was Dundalk, however, that almost finished the opening 45 minutes with a flourish with Chencinski having to make a fine stop to turn McEleney’s curler over the top after Rovers had failed to adequately clear a corner.

Shamrock Rovers’ Simon Madden makes a block on Dundalk’s Michael Duffy. PICTURE: BEN MCSHANE

The visitors enjoyed the better of the second-half and Sean Hoare had to make a superb sliding tackle to stop Clarke from racing through on goal in the 51st minute.

The Dundalk centre-back almost undid his good work two minutes later, coughing up possession on the right to Ronan Finn. The Rovers captain’s low cross fell for Gary Shaw in a great position but he couldn’t keep his effort on target.

Rovers continued to shade things and another free from the right almost led to the equaliser in the 65th minute. Miele’s delivery landed kindly for Finn but a combination of O’Donnell and Rogers denied their former teammate from leveling matters.

The away fans could sense a way back into it and Rovers did restore parity in the 76th minute when Miele controlled a Finn cross from the right and buried a low drive through the legs of Shields to leave Rogers with no chance.

Rovers were reduced to ten-men just three minutes later when McAllister was shown a second yellow card by referee Neil Doyle for a shocking challenge on Shields.

The Dundalk midfielder failed to recover, replaced by Jamie McGrath, but he can count himself fortunate that he was able to limp off the pitch rather than leaving on a stretcher.

Dundalk tried to work the numerical advantage but they were restricted to shots from distance that Chencinski easily dealt with and it was the Rovers fans who were signing loudly at the end when Doyle brought an enthralling cup tie to an end.

Patrick McEleney holds off Shamrock Rovers’ Roberto Lopes. PICTURE: BEN MCSHANE

DUNDALK FC: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Sean Hoare, Niclas Vemmelund; Robbie Benson, Stephen O’Donnell; Dylan Connolly (Chris Shields 70) (Jamie McGrath 82), Patrick McEleney, Michael Duffy; David McMillan (Thomas Stewart 90). Subs not used: Gabriel Sava (GK), Shane Grimes, Conor Clifford, Carlton Ubaezuono.

SHAMROCK ROVERS: Tomer Chencinski; Simon Madden, Lee Grace, Roberto Lopes, Luke Byrne; David McAllister, Ronan Finn, Aaron Bolger (James Doona 73); Brandon Miele (Ryan Connolly 81), Gary Shaw, Trevor Clarke (Dave Webster 90). Subs not used: Kevin Horgan (GK), Michael O’Connor, Sean Boyd, Sam Bone.

REFEREE: Neil Doyle.

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