Shelbourne 0 Derry City 3: Stephen McLaughlin was the man of the moment as Derry City booked their place in the FAI Ford Cup Final against St Pat’s at the Aviva Stadium on November 4.
He scored twice at Tolka Park — the second a quite breathtaking effort — to make sure Derry are through to next month’s decider, which will be a repeat of the 2006 final when City last lifted the trophy.
That Derry went in at the break a goal to the good was a source of wonder.
They had been under the cosh for most of the opening 45 minutes and survived several close shaves before McLaughlin gave them the lead.
Most of the pre-match speculation centred on whether Rory Patterson would start as he had in Sunday’s 1-1 draw at the Brandywell.
But this time Declan Devine opted to keep him in reserve and switched McLaughlin, who himself had been a little out of sorts in the first match, to the front line.
And it paid off as he put Derry ahead in the 44th minute with a brilliant finish from Patrick McEleney’s cross.
Shels’ Philip Hughes was much more of a threat than he had been on Sunday and cut open the Derry defence with a through ball in the eighth minute, but it was just overhit a touch for David Cassidy running through the centre.
The best chance of the opening exchanges fell to Shels’ Kevin Dawson from Paddy Kavanagh’s cross in the 22nd minute but his shot shaved the post.
It looked as though it was only a matter of time before the home side took the lead and it needed an astonishing save from Gerard Doherty to prevent Stephen Paisley heading them in front from a corner in the 31st minute.
Hughes actually managed to beat Doherty three minutes later but the ball rebounded back off the post and bounced to safety off the keeper.
Derry hit back through Patrick McEleney who saw keeper Chris Bennion push away a shot for a corner in the 36th minute and then four minutes later he hit the crossbar with another effort.
But if the first half belonged largely to Shels, Derry bossed the second and by the 62nd minute they were two up thanks to a quite brilliant curling effort from McLaughlin from just inside the area.
Within six minutes the tie was over as David McDaid sprang the offside trap and ran on to round Bennion and then tuck the ball into the empty net.
The Shels players were angry about the assistant referee's call but the goal stood.
Shelbourne: Bennion, S Byrne, Boyle, Paisley, Ryan, Dawson, Cronin, Caddidy, Kavanagh, Hughes, P Byrne. Subs: Gorman, Clancy, C Byrne, Hurley, Murphy, Shortall, Skinner.
Derry City: Doherty, S McEleney, McCaffrey, Madden, Greacen, Molloy, McNamee, P McEleney, Deery, McLaughlin, McDaid. Subs: Patterson, McBride, Higgins, Ferry, Farren, Curran, Brolly.
Referee: Anthony Buttimer (Dublin).