McMillan’s hat-trick puts paid to Rovers’ double hopes in thrilling FAI Cup decider

By Daire Walsh

Templeogue’s David McMillan grabbed an outstanding hat-trick at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday to propel Dundalk towards a 4-2 extra-time triumph over Shamrock Rovers in a dramatic FAI Cup final.

Leading the line up front for the victorious Lilywhites, McMillan became just the third player in the history of the competition - after Miah Dennehy and John Ryan - to score three goals in a showpiece decider.

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Dundalk (pic: Paddy Barrett)

Joining him in this successful Dundalk side were captain Chris Shields and Brian Gartland, who hail from Clondalkin and Knocklyon respectively.

Rovers were seeking to complete a domestic double for the first time since the 1986-87 season and while Stephen Bradley’s charges found themselves in a winning position during normal time, it wasn’t to be for the Tallaght men.

Following a scoreless opening half of play, the Hoops broke the deadlock four minutes after the restart when Kilnamanagh’s Aaron Greene nodded home from close-range after Liam Scales had flicked on a Jack Byrne corner.

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(Pic: Paddy Barrett) 

However, Dundalk completely turned the game on its head inside the final-quarter. McMillan fired home with the help of both posts in the 69th-minute and slotted a penalty beyond the reach of Alan Mannus three minutes later.

A resolute Rovers fired back straight away with a thunderous Roberto Lopes header off another pinpoint Byrne set-piece and - for the eighth time in 11 finals at the Aviva - an additional 30 minutes was required to produce a winner.

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Shamrock Rovers (Pic: Paddy Barrett)

A penalty shootout was beginning to loom large, until a Sean Hoare strike in the 111th-minute found the net via a deflection off the unfortunate Scales.

The Hoops hunted for an equaliser, but McMillan placed the outcome beyond doubt with a devastating finish to give Filippo Giovagnoli's Dundalk their third Cup final success in the space of six years.

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