Danny Mandroiu double seals amazing late escape for Bohemians
Bohemians 3 Shelbourne 2
Trailing 2-0 to First Division leaders Shelbourne on 81 minutes, the Gypsies looked set for an early exit from the competition. However, after skipper Keith Buckley initially offered them hope in a frantic finale, Mandroiu grabbed a quick double to spoil the Shels party right at the death.
Bohs suffered semi-final replay heartache at the hands of Cork City last October, but will now have aspirations to go at least a step further in 2019.
Buckley angled an enticing diagonal pass towards Mandroiu just past the half-hour mark, but Shels netminder Dean Delany was first to the ball. At the end of a half that was ultimately devoid of chances, the sides remained deadlocked.
This was Byrne’s final contribution of the night as he was subsequently replaced by Ciarán Kilduff on the hour mark. Within two minutes of his introduction, the Kildare native calmly slotted past James Talbot at a left-hand angle to send the away supporters into raptures.
Bohs were almost back on level terms straight away, but Delany superbly tipped over a Buckley shot on the turn.
Delany previously enjoyed a three-year spell at Bohs and he once again denied his old charges when Grant was picked out in space. Nine minutes from time, Shels edged a step further to a magnificent victory when Shane Farrell unleashed a stunning strike into the left-hand corner of the Gypsies net.
The dismissal of Kabia for an off-the-ball incident left them hamstrung in the closing stages, though, and Buckley gave Bohs a lifeline with an outstanding curled finish. The home faithful had suddenly rediscovered their voice and there was pure elation when Mandroiu’s long-distance drive in the 88th-minute took a wicked deflection on its way home.
Although the prospect of extra-time was looming large, Bohs had other ideas. After a goalmouth scramble found its way to Mandroiu in stoppage time, the 20-year-old midfielder kept his composure to snatch a dramatic winner.
BOHEMIANS: Talbot; Lyons, Finery, Barry, Leahy; Levingston (Ward, 64 mins), Buckley; Wade-Slater, Mandroiu, Grant (Tierney, 82 mins); Wright.
SHELBOURNE: Delany; McKenna, Prendergast, L Byrne, Fitzgerald; Brennan, Quinn (English, 90 mins); C Byrne (Kilduff, 60 mins), Farrell, Rooney (Noone, 77 mins); Kabia.
Referee: R Harvey (Dublin).