The FAI cup final between Cork City FC and Dundalk FC took place on the 5th of November 2017. Cork City were just after terminating the 12 year drought they suffered and finally lifted the SSE Airtricity league title and were looking to secure the clubs first ever double being the SSE Airtricity League and the FAI Cup.
I attended the game in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin with my father, my uncle and my 2 cousins as we all love Cork City FC. We arrived just as the women's Cup final was about to end and Cork City's women's team beat UCD 1-0. So it was a great start to the day and a good reason to hope that the men's team could match the women's performance with a victory.
The atmosphere was ecstatic even with a solid hour to go before the men's match commenced.
Finally Cork City FC and Dundalk FC stormed out onto the pitch in front of over 30,000 League of Ireland fans. The Cork fans displayed their gigantic flags and set off several flares and sang their heart outs with chants for their beloved club.
There was a minutes applause for a Dundalk fan who tragically lost his life in a matter of days before the final being only 27.
The match was just about to commence and we sang Amhráin na Bhíann and then it all began.
The teams were neck and neck and it was a very quiet 90 minutes besides when both sets of fans stood and gave a minutes applause again in the 27th minute for the loss of a fellow League of Ireland fan. However Dundalk FC's goalkeeper (man of the match) Gary Rogers made a cracker of a save in the 90th minute to deny Cork City the win and only one thing awaited us... extra time.
Dundalk scored in the first few minutes with Danish player Niclas Vemmelend heading it into the top corner.
But when all hope was lost, Cork City's Frenchman Achille Campion was subbed on and was clean through on goal smashed it past Rogers into Dundalk's goal. I sprinted down the steps in celebration screaming and destroying my larynx. Cork City FC's goalkeeper Mark McNulty pulled off several flying saves just before the end of extra time to keep our hopes of our first double alive.
It was the 120th minute and the whistle blew for full time. It was 1-1 so the dreaded penalty shootout awaited...
The penalties were taken in front of the Dundalk Fans via coin toss between the captains of each side. Cork City stepped up first and scored 4 penalties out of 4 (Karl Shepard, Greg Bolger, Conor McCormack and Stephen Beattie). Dundalk scored 3 consecutive penalties and Dundalk's fourth penalty went brilliant for me as Mark McNulty leaped like a salmon and saved the penalty. All Cork needed to do was score and they achieved their first double. Keiran Sadlier took the ball and marched on to the penalty spot. Stepped back and started running to kick the ball, time suddenly stood still...HE SLOTTED IT HOME TO SECURE CORK CITY FC THEIR FIRST DOUBLE!!!
The Cork end went crazy along with the players. Me and my father sprinted down the steps in celebration expressing our love for Cork City jumping up and down the steps screaming until our voice was hoarse.
Cork finally proceeded to the trophy presentation after the celebrations finished. Cork City FC's Captain Alan Bennet placed his hands on the FAI Cup and lifted it into the cold winter sky, Cork City FC finally achieved their first double with dramatic scenes at the Aviva Stadium.
All of Cork won't forget this moment in a lifetime. I know I won't.