A controversial 84th-minute penalty saved Cork City from an FAI Cup semi-final elimination at the hands of Bohemians in Dalymount Park on Sunday. It was a contest that was often extremely tense. But ultimately, both sides will have to do it all again at Turners Cross, next weekend. Dundalk will have to wait to find out who they will face in the decider at the Aviva.
A relatively scrappy opening half was riddled by fouls. In the first 30 minutes, the away side Cork had tried to force the issue. They had most of the ball, but perhaps lacked that bit of patience required to unlock the Gypsies rearguard. Indeed for all of their possession, they fashioned only one half-chance in that period. Kieran Sadlier saw his headed effort sail harmlessly over Shane Supple’s crossbar. Bohs looked shaky and relied on very rare counter-attacks that lead to nothing.
Bohemians created a good opportunity on 31 minutes and despite not taking it, it gave them confidence for the rest of the half. Keith Ward made an incisive off the ball run into the box where he was played in. The Bohs winger hit his shot first time only for Cork netminder McNulty to save low with his feet. Keith Longs side had arrived into the contest and right before the half-time whistle they almost went ahead. Kevin Devaney spotted a gap in Corks midfield and he continued to drive through. From 30 yards the Sligo man struck a thunderous effort that smashed McNulty’s right-hand post and bounced to safety. The halftime whistle would see both sides go in scoreless. By now, perhaps Bohs were the happiest going into the interval.
The Gypsies clearly had a pep in their step as the second half got underway. It took one second-half minute for Bohemians to create a golden opportunity. Daniel Kelly found himself in acres of space at the back post. From eight yards out, Kelly hit a low shot that trickled towards Mark McNulty. Despite being a great chance, the 37-year-old couldn’t have wished for an easier save. Remarkably in the 47th minute, Bohs were in again. This time it was Devaney who found himself in a similar situation, he struck it well, however, the big Cork keeper reacted quickly to narrow the angle and make a good save.
For the next 10 minutes or so, Bohs would continue to press. The Leesiders struggled to get out of their area, never-mind their half. John Caulfield reacted by bringing on the clubs top goal-scorer Graham Cummins to replace Ronan Coughlan after 56 minutes. They suffered a blow when Steven Beattie was forced off with a hamstring injury after 64 minutes. Cork appeared to be slowly creeping back into the game. It looked as though they had steadied the ship following an early second-half Gypsy onslaught. This proved be the stillness in the wind before the storm, as Bohs struck. Leahy spotted Devaney in space on the left and his cross was perfect for Dinny Corcoran. The striker did not need a second invitation to finish from inside the six-yard box. Bohemians were ahead after 68 minutes.
Bohs had their tails up and serious questions were being asked of the league and cup holders. Both Cork substitutes combined on 70 minutes as Conor McCarthy found Graham Cummins in the area. But his header was a difficult one and it fell straight into the arms of Shane Supple. By the 84th minute it appeared that the holders were going out, but then they received a huge opportunity. Leahy challenged McCarthy in the area and it appeared he won the ball fairly. The referee hesitated and then pointed to the spot. It seemed he had consulted with the extra official prior to making the decision. Bohemians were incensed. Eventually, the penalty was put away by Kieran Sadlier who was as cool as a cucumber and sent Supple the wrong way. The away support were in raptures. Sadlier had now scored in every round of the competition.
Bohs were floored by the goal and probably the decision. With five minutes of stoppage time announced you sensed Cork could even pinch it. In the end, the referee blew for full-time and it had finished 1-1. Bohemians may feel aggrieved. John Caulfield’s men will probably fancy their chances at Turners Cross next week in the replay, but one would not rule out Bohemians yet. Dundalk will have a little while longer to await their final opponents.