Battling Bohemians didn’t quite have enough to match cup specialist Cork City in the FAI Cup semi-final on Monday night, as the gritty, in-form northsiders were narrowly beaten 2-1 on Leeside.
The hosts had started well, putting Shane Supple in the Bohemians goal under pressure from the start, as he was forced to clear swiftly with Karl Sheppard bearing down on him, and saw two early efforts from a vibrant Graham Cummins drift wide of the mark.
The northsiders came back into the contest slowly, however, and started to knock the ball around, applying pressure down the wings and harrying City as both sides struggled to hold on to the ball for any length of time. After Cork’s sharp fast, resurgent Bohs were having slightly the better of the game, but Cork had rested much of their side in Friday’s away draw with Shamrock Rovers, and there was no sign of their recent poor form.
The home side took the lead on the half hour, as a whipped freekick from the centre right evaded almost everyone, before being knocked through to Graham Cummins, who’s diving header left Supple with no chance from around the penalty spot. Bohs weren’t happy: the original foul was given for Leahy challenge on Sheppard that could easily have been waved on.
Cork at their best are an unforgiving opponent, however, and six minutes later Sheppard added a second, getting on the end of a Cummins flick, outwitting Supple on the Bohs goal, and then evading two challenges to tap into the empty net.
Bohs had further cause for complaint before half time, after Leahy called for a promising looking penalty at the other end, but Cork had grown into the game, and went in with a rapid-fire 2-0 lead.
Bohs had slightly the better of the early second-half play, but didn’t really look like breaking down a compact Cork until Ian Morris hit an absolute stunner of a strike in off the underside of the bar from 40 yards. Morris’ strike was as good as any this season, pinging down off the crossbar and just over the line, leaving Mark McNulty in the Cork goal no chance.
That left Bohs with half an hour to equalise, and from then on the sides very much fell into attacking and defensive patterns. Cork slowed down the contest, playing keep ball and forcing their opponents to chase the game.
Bohs, on the other hand, were rapid in attack, and had much of the better play with defenders pushed up the pitch, plenty of balls fired into the box, and substitute Ali Reghba offering an energetic challenge the hosts.
It wasn’t to be, though, as all the pressure from Bohs couldn’t find a way through. They’ll look back to the late penalty at Dalymount that kept off-form Cork City in the contest, forcing a replay.
Despite scoring a contender for goal of the season, Ian Morris told RTE that his goal doesn’t mean a whole lot in the context of the loss.
“It is what it is, but I’m devastated,” the centre back said. “I’ve been feeling for a long time that we were going to get to the Aviva. Unfortunately we were pipped at the final hurdle.
“I fancied us towards the end, I did think we were going to get the equaliser. But sure it wasn’t to be,” Morris said.
For Cork, yet another cup final – their fourth in a row – awaits. It’ll be familiar opponents at the Aviva, too – they’ll be playing Dundalk for the fourth time in a row, with all the previous three having gone to extra time.