Derry City 2 Dundalk 3 (AET)
EX-Derry City striker, Georgie Kelly came off the bench to net an extra-time winner in a dramatic FAI Cup second round tie at Brandywell as Dundalk ended Derry City's cup aspirations for a third time in four seasons.
The cup holders stretched their unbeaten run in domestic games to an incredible 21 games as they kept alive their chances of emulating Derry's 1989 treble success.
It was a brave effort from Declan Devine's troops who twice clawed their way back into the contest, taking the game into extra-time with an 84th minute equaliser.
However, Kelly emerged the hero with just three minutes to go in the tie as he rose to head past Peter Cherrie from close range as Dundalk keep their hopes of reaching a fifth successive FAI Cup Final alive.
Daniel Kelly had handed Dundalk a deserved first half lead with a looping header which caught Cherrie off guard. However, Greg Sloggett fired Derry level from close range following a neat build-up.
Dundalk hit back three minutes later through Sean Murray but substitute, Darren McCauley gave Derry hope by forcing extra-time. It wasn't to be for the Candy Stripes, however, as Kelly proved the matchwinner.
It was a dress rehearsal for next month's EA Sports Cup Final between the sides at the same venue as Derry were presented with their first opportunity to put the skids on Dundalk's 'treble' bid in the 30th anniversary of the Candy Stripes' historic achievement.
And 'treble' winning manager, Jim McLaughlin, who also won the double with Dundalk, was present in the stands to add an extra bit of nostalgia to the occasion in what was Derry's first match since celebrating its 90th anniversary this week.
Derry were without their leading goalscorer, David Parkhouse who sat out the game through suspension and Michael McCrudden was brought in to lead the line in his absence.
There was also a welcome return to the team for Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe after an injury lay-off while Grant Gillespie was handed a rare start in midfield for the Candy Stripes.
Dundalk, who came into the game looking for a 21st consecutive victory domestically, began with the in-form ex-Candy Stripe, Patrick McEleney taking his place on a strong looking bench.
Vinny Perth made four changes from the team which defeated Bohemians in the EA Sports Cup semi-final on Monday night at Oriel Park. Goalkeeper, Gary Rodgers reclaimed his place in nets while Sean Hoare, Dan Cleary, Sean Murray and Kelly all got the nod.
The home side were fortunate not to go behind on 13 minutes when Eoin Toal failed to clear Murray's low cross towards the front post and Hoban - who had netted four times against Derry this season - turned his man but couldn't get a decent contact before Peter Cherrie came to collect at the second attempt.
Five minutes later Junior went on a promising run which saw him skip past the challenge of Chris Shields before his shot from the edge of the box charged down. The rebound fell to McCrudden in space just inside the 18 yard box but his weak right-footed strike sailed harmlessly into the hands of Rodgers.
The Lilywhites broke the deadlock on 33 minutes as Cleary crossed from the right and Kelly peeled off his marker to send his looping header from the edge of the penalty area over Cherrie who had come off his line and the ball bounced into the empty net. It was all too easy for the visitors!
Derry were under pressure as Dundalk pressed for a second and when Sean Gannon knocked the ball neatly into the path of the unmarked Murray on the edge of the box, he blasted over.
Ciaran Coll crossed dangerously from the left and Sloggett arrived into the penalty area and powered his header from 12 yards over the crossbar as City looked to find the equaliser before the interval.
The home side threatened with a couple of set-pieces in first half stoppage time but Rodgers managed to punch clear an inswinging corner and Gerardo Bruna's searching free-kick was defended well by Dundalk who went into the break with a slender advantage.
Thirty seconds into the second half Dundalk almost caught City napping as Hoban's strike from a narrow angle needed to be turned away by Cherrie. It fell kindly to Gannon at the back post and his close range shot was parried away by the City stopper who was in fine form.
At the other end Jamie McDonagh crossed brilliantly into the Dundalk six yard box and Rodgers mistimed his punch but McCrudden knew little about it sent his close ranged header the wrong side of the post.
Michael Duffy got in behind the City defence on 50 minutes but Cherrie was quick off his line to block his shot.
Derry got back on terms on 51 minutes after a brilliant team move as McCrudden cleverly flicked the ball into the path of Sloggett who took a touch before slotting past Rodgers from six yards to send the home crowd into raptures.
The celebrations didn't last long, however. Three minutes in fact, as Dundalk edged back in front from a corner when Derry failed to clear and Murray was on hand to smash it into the net.
John Mountney was introduced off the Dundalk bench just short of the hour mark for goalscorer, Kelly, and the midfielder tested Cherrie with a long range effort the keeper had to parry clear.
There was a lengthy stoppage as City goalscorer, Sloggett was eventually stretchered off with an injury with City boss, Devine opting to make a double substitution as skipper, Barry McNamee and Darren McCauley entered the fray.
Dundalk playmaker, McEleney also came off the bench for the final 20 minutes of the tie to replace scorer of his side's second goal, Murray.
Derry were fortunate not to go further behind on 76 minutes when Ally Gilchrist's miscued clearance fell straight to Duffy but his effort on the volley was deflected behind.
The pressure was mounting and McEleney slotted Hoban into space and his drilled 25 yard strike was parried into the path of Gannon by Cherrie and the Dundalk right back then sent his well hit shot wide of the target.
Derry's subs combined on 84 minutes as McNamee did superbly to chase down the ball and find McDonagh who crossed towards the near post where McCauley was on hand to poke past Rodgers as the home side clawed their way back in to the game for a second time.
The fourth official signalled six minutes of stoppage time and Derry looked the most likely to net a winner. And with the last meaningful action in normal time City substitute, Ciaron Harkin headed Coll's cross onto the crossbar with Rodgers rooted to the spot as the game went into extra-time.
Cherrie came to Derry's rescue at the end of the first half of extra-time as Sean Hoare headed Duffy's corner goalwards at the near post but the former Dundalk keeper produced a superb point blank save.
Junior received the knockdown by City's fourth sub on the night, Jack Malone but sent his half volley just wide as City finished the half strongly.
Derry had Dundalk on the ropes in the second half of extra-time but from a deep cross from the right from Gannon, substitute, Georgie Kelly rose to head past Cherrie to break Derry hearts just three minutes before the end.
Derry City: P. Cherrie, D. Cole, E. Toal, A. Gilchrist, C. Coll; G. Bruna (J. Malone 101), G. Gillespie (C. Harkin 82), G. Sloggett (B. McNamee 70); J. McDonagh, J. Ogedi-Uzokwe, M. McCrudden (D. McCauley 70): Subs Not Used - N. Gartside, M. McChrystal, A. Delap.
Dundalk: G. Rogers, S. Gannon, S. Hoare, D. Cleary, D. Massey; C. Shields, S. Murray (P. McEleney 71), J. McGrath; (D. Jarvis 118) D. Kelly (J. Mountney 58), Hoban, (G. Kelly 110) Duffy; Subs Not Used - A. McCarey, B. Gartland, A. Boyle.
Referee: Robert Harvey (Dublin).