Templeogue’s McMillan shoots down Rovers’ dream of invincible season

by Dave Donnelly
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** David McMillan celebrates with the FAI Senior Cup. Picture: Michael P Ryan

David McMillan became just the third man to score an FAI Cup final hat-trick as he fired Dundalk to a 4-2 win over Shamrock Rovers on Sunday night. 

The Templeogue man struck twice in three second-half minutes to turn the tie on its head before sealing the win deep in extra time. 

Castleknock native Sean Hoare was also on target in extra time for the Lilywhites, while Kilnamanagh’s Aaron Greene and Crumlin’s Roberto Lopes scored for Rovers. 

McMillan was at the forefront of a backs-to-the wall performance for a Dundalk side that only returned from an arduous Europa League performance in Norway on Friday. 

Filippo Giovagnoli’s side spent much of the game chasing a classy Rovers side, who missed out on becoming the first side in 95 years to win an unbeaten league and Cup double. 

All the drama took place following a tense first half that Rovers dominated without creating a huge amount of note. 

That changed four minutes after the break when Lee Grace, who had replaced the injured Joey O’Brien at half time, flicked a corner into the path of Greene and the striker nodded home at the back post. 

Greene went close again and Liam Scales headed into the roof of the net as Rovers looked to make their superiority count, but they were rocked by a 69th-minute equaliser. 

McMillan controlled a Seán Gannon cross with his head before squeezing a low shot past Alan Mannus with the aid of both posts. 

Two minutes later, the turnaround was complete as Scales pulled down Dan Cleary in the box and McMillan sent Mannus the wrong way from 12 yards. 

Rovers roared right back and were level inside three minutes, again from a corner, as ‘Pico’ Lopes glanced Jack Byrne’s corner past Gary Rogers. 

Rogers pulled off a string of fine saves to keep Dundalk in it and another 30 minutes were required. 

Substitute Hoare put Dundalk back in front as his goal bound effort deflected off Scales and past Mannus. 

And as Rovers poured forward in the hope of forcing penalties, Daniel Kelly sent McMillan clear on goal and he finished expertly to win the cup and the match ball. 

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