Sligo Rovers players celebrate after Raffaele Cretaro scored the winning penalty against Shelbourne.

Goalkeeper Ciaran Kelly was the hero once again as Sligo Rovers defeated Shelbourne in the Ford FAI Cup final at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday after a 1-1 tie and a 4-1 penalty shoot-out win.

Kelly was introduced as a sub by boss Paul Cook just in time for the shoot-out, a year after he denied Shamrock Rovers in similar dramatic fashion in the 2010 decider.

Kelly did again with two stops from Kevin Dawson and Colm James in the shoot-out as Shelbourne were left to rue the controversial dismissal of winger Barry Boyle soon after Philly Hughes had put them ahead.

Iarlaith Davoren equalized two minutes into the second half for Premier Division Rovers, who had to rely on penalties and goalie Kelly again to retain their Cup.

“On Friday, we’d a penalty competition and I saved five or six in a row,” said Kelly afterwards. “That kind of set it in concrete that it would happen if we went to penalties.


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“I’m just happy for the town because it was starved of success, and it would have been an absolute shame, a crime, if we didn’t win a trophy this year.”
Manager Cook’s decision to bring Kelly on so late was a brave one. “Ciaran is phenomenal at penalties,” said Cook.

“He just seems to have a great way of reading people’s body language.”

Shels were upset by referee Richie Winters’ decision to send Clancy off for a second yellow card offence when he was adjudged to have dived in the 36th minute.

“I cannot understand the decision,” said Clancy. “I got contact, I went down and I thought he blew for a peno. The second card was outrageous.”

Manager Alan Matthews added, “The referee shouldn’t be centre stage. It was probably a good game, with a good atmosphere and good buzz, but who takes over? The referee. I don’t want to give him that, but unfortunately it cost us. And I do believe it cost us.”