THREE TEAMS STILL remain in this year’s FAI Cup after Derry and Shels played out a 1-1 draw in the Brandywell earlier this afternoon before St. Patrick’s Athletic proved too strong for Dundalk in Oriel Park in the second semi-final.
But what did we learn from today’s games?
1. Derry are a team of two halves
Had the Candystripes approached the first half with the same urgency they played the second, they would be celebrating a place in the FAI Cup final tonight. As it was, they laboured through the opening period with all the intensity of a mid-season game and deservedly found themselves behind at half-time.
2. The Brandywell is not conducive to good football
Derry’s home turf made playing passing football almost impossible and both teams reverted to the long ball from fairly early in the game. The slope at the Brandywell is something teams have become accustomed to but the variable bounce and length of grass had a role to play in both team’s decision to bypass their midfields.
3. Rory Patterson wasn’t fit to play
You can understand Declan Devine’s decision to play Rory Patterson. Before today, the striker had eight goals in seven Derry appearances. Today though, it was obvious his long injury lay off had taken its toll and he was struggling from as early as the 30 minute mark . It would be very surprising if he starts Wednesday’s replay.
4. Pats are really quite good
This, of course, isn’t something we learned today. However, they proved against Dundalk that they are probably the best team in the Airtricity League at the moment and will take huge confidence from this game into next weekend’s six-pointer with Sligo Rovers. It could have been four or five had league points been on the line.
5. Dundalk aren’t too shabby themselves
It seems strange to say it given how comfortable the Saints were in victory but the Lilywhites have some excellent young players. Gary Shanahan and Michael Rafter were both excellent while John Mountney deservedly picked up the man of the match award. If they go down, it will be a real shame as they have the potential to be very exciting.