Sean Maguire's last minute strike seals famous victory for The Leesiders
A last-gasp strike from former Dundalk player Sean Maguire handed Cork City the FAI Cup this evening as they denied this season's league champions the "double double".
Dundalk, who were aiming to complete back-to-back doubles had their place in history struck out when Sean Maguire, the man Dundalk allowed to leave the club in December of last year struck in the final minutes of injury after the sides needed extra time to separate themselves.
Cork, who avenged last year's loss in the exact same fixture, started the game under pressure as Dundalk dominated possession and probed for openings. Their defence was rock-solid however and the Lilywhites struggled to break John Caulfield's side down.
The Leesiders began to grow into the game, forcing Dundalk out of the final third of the field as their physicality began to take it's toll. There had been talk before the game about whether Dundalk's European exploits deserved a date change for this final, and while that certainly would have helped their legs, it was the lack of a cutting edge that was their downfall.
While first half was a forgettable affair in terms of chances, although the ones that did come fell to Dundalk, with Mark McNulty pulling off saves from a Daryl Horgan attempted chip, and a fantastic stop from a David McMillan shot just before the half.
The second half was a more open affair, with Cork starting to impose their attacking threat more, seeing an Alan Bennett header cleared off the line before Gary Rogers was called into action as Gearoid Morrisey and Sean Maguire forced the Dundalk keeper into a double-save.
At the other end Dundalk failed to capitalise on chances for David McMillan and substitute Ciaran Kilduff, meaning the sides ended the 90 minutes in a stalemate.
Stephen Kenny had alluded to the fatigue his players were suffering from during the game while talking to the pitch-side reporters, and it was obvious that his side tried to force the win before the end of normal time, knowing the legs may not be there for a further 30 minutes in extra time.
That didn't proved to be the case however, as Man of the Match Ronan Finn continued to gallop the length of the field and provided some teasing cross before flashing a shot just wide himself. Recent international call-up Daryl Horgan also had a cross-come shot tipped away by Mark McNulty as Dundalk threatened until the final minute.
As it game appeared to be heading for penalties, a long-throw from Cork fell to the feet of Sean Maguire inside the box, with the former West Ham man making up for an unusually quiet day by winning it at the death as he saw his shot take a deflection before rolling past an unlucky Gary Rogers.
A goal from Seán Maguire in injury time of extra time has put Cork City 1-0 up in the cup final https://t.co/iWwdRWSG9F— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) November 6, 2016
An incredible end to a year which saw Cork push Dundalk all the way to the final games of the season, and while they may have come up slightly short in that pursuit, they managed to cap the season off with a win that not only sets the rivalry up perfectly for 2017, but rewards the Leesiders for their incredible work throughout the past two years.