The FAI Cup Final (basically the Irish equivalent of the FA Cup in England) was played out at the new Lansdowne Road yesterday and Sligo Rovers prevailed in an exciting penalty shoot out, 2-0.
The new Lansdowne Road was a shiny, magnificent host to two excellent sets of supporters. 36,000 packed the stadium and the atmosphere was superb for the whole evening. The FAI probably learnt from the IRFU's mistakes and the relatively low cost of tickets meant a great atmosphere for the event, as opposed to the stagnant experience at the Ireland v Samoa game the day before.
The game itself was as exciting as a 0-0 draw can be, with Sligo creating the better chances, but Shamrock Rovers played a very composed game-plan, and pushed Sligo to the limit.
In Romuald Boco
and Joseph Ndo
, Sligo had the two most technically talented and entertaining players on the park. Ndo in particular looked so at ease on the ball, and kept finding the open team-mate in a lovely display of passing ability. Shamrock Rovers didn't have the individual talent that Sligo did, but played a very disciplined and patient game plan (almost) to perfection.
The FAI final should take on a new lease of life, as teams all over Ireland would have been watching the game and seeing the terrific atmosphere and thinking to themselves, 'wow, I want a piece of that action!'.
The New Lansdowne gets two thumbs up from this writer. Having been to dozens of games in the Old Lansdowne, much as we all loved the history and character of the old stadium, the new version is a massive upgrade. It is comfortable, easy to get around and has the added advantage of a very clever under ground tunnel which goes under the DART line, meaning you no longer have to wait for a half hour crushed amongst thousands of fans as the trains go by. Brilliant idea.
Sligo Rovers 0 Shamrock Rovers 0
(Sligo win 2-0 in penalty shoot out)
Shamrock Rovers -- Mannus, Rice, Sives, Flynn, Stevens; Chambers (Baker 69; Price 111), Bradley, Turner, Dennehy; Stewart (Kavanagh 102), Twigg
Sligo Rovers -- Kelly, Keane, Peers, Lauchlan, Davoren; Ventre (O'Grady 116), Ndo, Russell; Boco, McCabe; Doyle
Ref -- T Connolly (Dublin).