Defending champions Shamrock Rovers produced a stirring second leg comeback, but it wasn’t quite enough as two goals from prolific hitman Gary Twigg couldn’t overcome a three goal first-leg deficit as Derry City reach the 2012 Setanta Sports Cup final.
In hindsight; this tie was decided after 12 minutes of the first leg when Rovers goalkeeper Reyaad Pieterse was sent off after being adjudged to have brought down David McDaid as the striker bore down on goal.
McDaid dusted himself off to score from the rebound after his penalty had been saved by Oscar Jansson but McDaid got the rebound into the back of the net. Rovers faced an uphill task from there and goals early and late in the second-half sealed a 0-3 away win for the northern side.
Rovers manager Stephen Kenny rested several front line players for the second leg, but they mounted a stirring comeback and will count themselves unlucky not to have forced the tie into extra-time as Derry held on for a 3-2 aggregate win.
The other semi-final went into extra-time. The hosts Sligo Rovers, having trailed 2-0 to Crusaders of Belfast from the first leg, took the lead on the night from a Boco tap-in after the referee had played a good advantage following what was a certain penalty incident.
The Airtricity League leaders then leveled the aggregate score from a fine passing move two minutes into the second half. Quigley played the ball to Ndo who passed to Keynar before he found Lynch. Lynch proceeded to spot a perfect pass to Mark Quigley’s feet who slotted past the advancing keeper from 10 yards out. It was a quality team goal from a quality passing team.
It was the northern side who were to have the final say however as Colin Coates converted a controversial penalty on the stroke of half-time in extra-time. A foul had taken place but initial contact looked to have taken place just outside the box.
The Belfast outfit held out for the final 15 minutes as the Connacht side needed to score twice in that period.
Crusaders now face Derry City in what is a first final appearance for the northern sides and a first all Northern Ireland line-up in the seventh staging of the competition. The final will be played at Belfast’s Windsor Park on 12th May.