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Dublin Live
Dublin Live
Paul O'Hehir

Record-breaking Derry City claim FAI Cup final victory over Shelbourne

Derry City were both ruthless and relentless in their pursuit of FAI Cup final glory on an historic day at Aviva Stadium.

Jordan McEneff’s injury-time penalty was more than just the icing on the cake for the Candystripes who wiped the floor with their rivals. It secured Derry’s place in the history books as the side with the biggest all-time winning margin in the final of this competition.

That McEneff started the season as a Shelbourne player - on loan from Arsenal - was just another hammer blow for Damien Duff, his players and Shels supporters to stomach. They suffered repeated punches to the gut throughout a decider that was signed, sealed and delivered by half-time and never in doubt at any point.

Read more: Football supporters throw flares and brawl during FAI Cup final in Dublin

Cameron McJannet was the Candystripes’s two-goal hero while Jamie McGonigle got them off to the perfect start inside 18 minutes with his fourth goal in five cup games this year.

All season, Shelbourne players have spoken about wanting to run through walls for Duff - but not here, not when they kept running into a formidable Derry one. Stephen Bradley regularly points to the 2019 FAI Cup final win as the turning point in Shamrock Rovers’ fortunes as it gave the three-in-a-row champions a taste for success.

The Hoops have not looked back since and Ruaidhri Higgins will feel this victory can have an equally galvanising effect on a club that is only going in one direction. And this final - in front of 32,412 - was only going one way, too, as the Candystripes strangled the life out of a Shelbourne side left utterly shell-shocked by events.

Duff’s men were under the cosh in every department. They rarely had a say in proceedings and failed to register a shot of note on Brian Maher’s goal.

In the dying stages, frustration got the better of a handful of their supporters in the South Stand who started fighting among themselves and required police action. Derry, on the other hand, hardly had to break sweat and that will rile Duff and his staff more than anything.

It was effortless for the Candystries, who knew Shels were utterly goosed by half-time after McGonigle and McJannet’s first-half goals.
And the warning signs were there for Shels when McGonigle squirmed through the cover after only 28 seconds to prod an effort at Brendan Clarke.

Duff would have hoped that jolt would stir his side into action, but it actually had the opposite effect as Derry repeatedly brought the fight to their rivals.

On paper, they were the clear favourites but momentum had slowed on approach to this final, which in turn led to favourable shouts for Shels.

Motivation, perhaps, for Higgins and his players, who quickly set the record straight on who was going to finish the day as cup final kingpins.

Shane Farrell’s fitness was the subject of much debate all week, but the Shels ace was pitched in from the start - but Derry gave him a torrid time.

Deployed at left wing-back, he was repeatedly targeted and, from one such move, the Candystripes opened the scoring with the earliest cup final goal since 2013.

Patrick McEleney picked out Ryan Graydon with a sweeping diagonal ball in the 18th minute, and Graydon’s first-time touch was exquisite.

Farrell was the covering player but didn’t know what happened as Graydon took him out of the equation before teeing up McGonigle to beat Brendan Clarke.

It was McGonigle’s 15th goal in all competitions this season and his fourth in Derry’s five games to this point.

Duff reacted by switching Farrell to the right hand side and moving Gavin Molloy onto Graydon, but Derry just switched the focus of their attack.

They peppered that right side for fun with Farrell, JR Wilson and Stephan Negru all feeling the heat as the Candystripes doubled their lead 10 minutes before half-time.

McJannet started and finished the move.

Outfoxing Farrell, he played in Michael Duffy who blitzed Negru on the outside before pulling back to the Englishman to finish from 12 yards.

Shels - whose best chance of that half was a Molloy free - were unravelling at pace and Graydon threatened to inflict further punishment but his shot was always rising.

But Shelbourne’s implosion was complete on the hour as McJannet bagged his second of the game, while the crossbar spared them more misery a minute later.

McJannet didn’t know a great deal about it, but following in on a Duffy corner that clipped off Jack Moylan, he finished off his left thigh at close range.

And Duffy then saw his vicious drive smash off the crossbar within a minute as Derry chased a record Cup final win against floundering opponents.

Shels couldn’t lay a glove on Derry in response and their misery was compounded when McEneff won and scored an historic spot kick after Luke Byrne’s foul.

Shelbourne will come again, particularly if the rumoured financial backing from Southampton’s owners materialises ahead of next season.

But Derry are on an upward trajectory and their historic win here may well be a turning point for the club as they set their sights on Shamrock Rovers next year.


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