Derry City 2 Dundalk 2 (Dundalk win 6-5 on penalties)
IT was penalty shoot-out heartache for Derry City, as Dundalk secured their first of what they hope will be a treble.
Chris Shields' spot-kick after Ally Gilchrist's sudden death penalty had come back off the crossbar, sealed the win for the Vinny Perth's men.
The fighting spirit Declan Devine's side produced after being reduced to ten men for a good hour of the contest, showed the grit and determination he has installed into his side and for a third time this season they have taken the best in Ireland, all the way.
Midfielder Greg Sloggett failed a late fitness test and didn't recover from his ankle injury and missed out, meaning Creggan man Ciaron Harkin came into the starting line-up.
As for Dundalk, Vinny Perth continued with ex-Warrenpoint Town keeper Aaron McCarey in goals, with first choice number one Gary Rodgers on the bench.
The home side, backed a big passionate support, got off to a dream start when they took the lead on two minutes as that man McCarey spilled by Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe's shot and David Parkhouse was on hand to turn home the loose ball.
Dundalk should have levelled things on 11 minutes as Jamie McGrath's teasing right wing cross found Michael Duffy, who's close range header was superbly tipped over by Peter Cherrie.
Parkhouse was in the thick of things again on 25 minutes, as a slick passing move which started with Barry McNamee finding Harkin, the midfielder's first time cross from the right found the big striker, but his glancing side footed strike flew just over.
Dundalk, who as expected had a lot of possession, drew level on 38 minutes as a Derry old boy came back to haunt his old club, when Duffy cut in from the left before seeing his sublime curling right footed strike, give Cherrie no chance and flew into the net.
Minutes later a teasing Sean Gannon right wing centre flashed across the City six yard box, with an out stretched Pat Hoban, inches away from getting a touch.
Derry made a change at the break with Darren McCauley replaced the injury Gerardo Bruna.
Declan Devine's chargers took the lead on 51 minutes in fortunate circumstances as Ogedi-Uzokwe’s left footed strike took a deflection off Sean Hoare and wrong footed McCarey.
The home side were dealt a blow on 57 minutes as they were rightfully reduced to ten men as Grant Gillespie, who was cautioned a few minutes earlier for a foul on Patrick McEleney, stupidly brought down Jamie McGrath inside the Dundalk half and received a second yellow card, followed a red.
With the man advantage the visitors pushed forward for an equaliser and Cherrie was called into action on 64 minutes as Chris Shields’ stinging 25 yard drive was tipped over by the City keeper.
Dundalk drew level for a second time on 69 minutes after a goalkeeping error by Cherrie, as the ex-Cliftonville man fumbled Duffy’s low 25 yard drive and the alert Sean Gannon, who was up from right-back, was on hand to turn home the rebound from six yards.
Twice in the closing minutes the ten men pushed forward looking for a winner, but Barry McNamee's 30 yard free-kick fizzed just over and Harkin's tame side footed strike was saved by McCarey.
Then right at the death Patrick McEleney, went on a trade mark run, before his goal bound strike from the edge of the box, was blocked by Ciaran Coll.
Duffy had a great chance to give Dundalk the lead for the first time on 100 minutes as Hoban feed the winger, he cut inside past McDonagh and Eoin Toal, but his well hit drive from 10 yards was kept out by Cherrie.
The final real chance in the encounter fell to the Brandywell men on 108 minutes, substitute Michael McCrudden, got in behind the Dundalk back-line, but his left footed shot from just inside the box was straight at McCarey.
In the shoot-out Jamie McDonagh, McNamee, McCrudden all netted with the unfortunate Jack Malone blazing wide, while Hoban, Duffy, Dean Jarvis all scored for Dundalk, but Robbie Benson, who had a chance to win it, saw his spot-kick saved by Cherrie, however Gilchrist missed in sudden death, before Shields slotted home from 12 yards to secure the first piece of silverware of the season.
Derry City: Cherrie, McDonagh, Toal, Gilchrist, Coll; Bruna (McCauley HT Delap 118), Gillespie, McNamee; Harkin, Parkhouse (Malone 77), Ogedi-Uzokwe (McCrudden 101).
Dundalk: McCarey, Gannon, Hoare, Cleary, Massey; Shields, McEleney (Jarvis 102), McGrath (G Kelly 86); Duffy, Hoban, D Kelly (Benson 66).
Referee: Robert Hennessy (Dublin).