Sunday 27th October 2002, 5:59 pm
27th October 2002
Derry City 1
Liam Coyle 47
Shamrock Rovers 0
Attendance : 9,000
Another piece of magic from Derry legend Liam Coyle gave Derry City their third FAI Cup victory at the expense of "cup specialists" Shamrock Rovers in an incident packed game at Tolka Park. The pitch itself putting in a good performance after spending some of the week under water and having doubt cast over it's playability throughout the week.
The opening 20 odd minutes proved little in the way of excitement, although the small fire at the base of one of the floodlight pylons proved the spark necessary to wake everyone up.
The fire itself was confined to some confetti and toilet rolls thrown by the Rovers' fans and ignited the padding around one of the pylons. The stewards and safety crew were on the scene instantly and the fire extinguished virtually immediately. However, the resulting smoke and burning embers forced stewards to evacuate that portion of the stand, bringing the Rovers fans onto the pitch. The hold-up lasted about 9 minutes in total and was reflected in the 10 minutes injury time at the end of the first half.
The only noteworthy action before the stoppage was James Keddy's foul on Peter Hutton on 18 minutes which resulted in the Rovers player becoming the first booking of the day.
Almost immediately after the stoppage though the game burst into life. Alan Gough forced into making a save from Terry Palmer's lunging flick. Stephen Grant blazing over and Tony Grant seeing his flick just drop over the crossbar all inside a couple of minutes.
Not to be outdone, Derry pushed forward and a stunning block from Palmer stopped Paddy McLaughlin's goal-bound shot troubling Rovers.
Luke Dimech showed great awareness as he pounced on a lose ball and again produced a fine save from the magnificent Gough.
Derry's best chance of the half fell to semi-final hero Sean Friars and he will be disappointed with his effort, Ciaran Martyn making an incisive run down the right before crossing, Friars almost got too high above the ball heading into the ground, allowing O'Dowd to tip it over.
Inside the added ten minutes both sides saw yellow, Jason Colwell for Rovers and Liam Coyle for Derry.
Noel Hunt had the last sight of goal in the first half, receiving the ball from Costello he made space for himself and fired in a low shot, again dealt with easily by Gough.
Derry didn't hang around at the start of the second half, Liam Coyle grabbing the only goal of the game inside two minutes of the restart. Some good work by Peter Hutton was rewarded with a corner off Richie Byrne. The resulting kick caused confusion in the Rovers area, and Ciaran Martyn took a shot, although completely sliced, the ball swerved towards Coyle, who reached out his leg volleying in via the far post and sending a Riverside stand full of Derry fans into delirium.
David Kelly, playing his final game for Derry should have made it 2-0 just minutes later but somehow fired well wide from just outside the 6 yard box.
Coyle wasn't on the pitch for too long to celebrate as he went off less than 10 minutes after scoring, replaced by Tommy McCallion.
Rovers struggled to break down the resolute Derry defence and the brilliant Gough.
James Keddy had possibly the best chance to level, getting on the end of Stephen Grant's cross he headed wide when the least he should have done was get it on target.
Derry had appeals for a penalty turned down on 65 minutes when Greg Costello and Sean Friars got their arm and legs in a tangle and it was probably the right decision, Costello just about playing the ball before the man.
Inside the closing ten minutes, Liam Buckley gambled and had Rovers push further and further forward. If Derek Treacy had been on the pitch longer than ten minutes his 80th minute shot might have caused more trouble to Alan Gough, but the Derry keeper watched it slide wide.
Shane Robinson continued Rovers attempts at an equaliser, but his cross-shot was again clawed away by Gough.
The final chance of the game came three minutes into injury time, Gough's first handling problem of the day saw he fumbled Robinson's shot, but the keeper managed to get the ball away with his feet.
A cup final that was slow to get going, produced a good spectacle and the fears over the pitch proved for the most part unfounded, with both sides still able to play good football on the ground. For Derry it will be a night (or more) of celebration, but for Rovers the disappointment should be tempered by the turnaround their season has seen. How many Rovers' fans would have settled for a cup final loss after their poor start to the season?
Derry City : Gough, E McCallion, Hargan, Hutton, McLoughlin, Doherty [capt], Harkin, Martyn, Coyle (T McCallion 57), Kelly, Friars (McCready 67).
Shamrock Rovers : O'Dowd, Costello, R Byrne (Robinson 69), Colwell (Treacy 69), Palmer, Scully [capt], S Grant (Francis 82), T Grant, Hunt, Dimech, Keddy.
Referee : Jim O'Neill (Waterford)
Man of the Match : Eamon Doherty (Derry City)