By the end of the Dundalk match three weeks ago, the Saints looked like a break might be needed. Fast forward two weeks and nine points in the space of 10 days has us top of the pile. Following a routine win in Longford, Sligo arrived in Inchicore in good form.
Yes sir, I can boogie! What an evening in front of the largest crowd at an FAI Cup final since 1945. Not quite the old cliché about buses but having waited 53 years for the cup to return to Inchicore, a second triumph in seven years is a great feeling.
Minutes before Robbie Benson sealed the deal, it didn’t look likely but here we are, our fourth cup secured. From sixth to second in the league; from first round defeat to champions in the cup. Stephen O’Donnell (right) has transformed his team.
Dublin derbies are surprisingly rare in the fixture, with this being the first since 2000. A 4pm kick off on a Sunday meant loads of time to soak up the atmosphere and there were fans all the way down the canal from early afternoon. Beggars bush and Slattery’s were bouncing, as were the queues in and the stand from well before kick-off.
By the time kick off arrived, the pitch had been hidden by pyro displays, the SEI victorious in the rivals’ pre-match rituals. Then the real battle started. Pat’s dominated the ball for long stretches, perhaps expected of any team playing a false nine.
Or maybe not. Almost instantly, former Pat’s man Feely had equalised from a corner. In the remaining time, Bohs probably looked most likely. Jaros showed how much he’ll be missed with a couple of fine stops, while a Hickman clearance will be remembered for a long time.
And so, onto the hardest part, trying to watch a penalty shootout. Coughlan, Billy and Jason smashed home penalties, with a surprising miss from Forrester in between. But one wide and one over the bar meant Benson had an opportunity to send the North Stand into flames. No better man. A Forrester worldie and Ian Bermingham, with the Saints since 2010, lifting the trophy. A Sunday for the ages.
PHOTOS – SPORTSFILE