3 key battles in the FAI Cup Final between St Patrick's Athletic and Derry City 9 years ago

3 key battles in the FAI Cup Final between St Patrick's Athletic and Derry City

Can the Saints end their 53-year cup hoodoo or will the cup specialists Derry City reign supreme again?

The League of Ireland season comes to a climax on Sunday as Liam Buckley's St Patrick's Athletic take on Peter Hutton's Derry City in a repeat of the classic 2012 final.


Fans of both sides will say that their teams have underperformed in the league this season, so both sets of players will be desperate to add some silverware to the trophy cabinets in Richmond Park or the Brandywell.

Like most cup finals anything can happen, the FAI Cup final has had some classic matches in the last decade alone, but here are some of the key head-to-heads that we think will have a crucial bearing on the outcome of the match.

Patrick McEleney v Greg Bolger

Make no mistake about it, the incredibly gifted McEleney is the most important player on the pitch.


Derry come into the game as the underdogs but if he plays well then the whole team plays well. This JOE thinks that it's a crying shame that the dynamic, skilful and wonderfully gifted attacker doesn't have a bigger profile but as any LOI fan will tell you, McEleney is undoubtedly one of the most talented players in the country.

Peter Hutton might deploy him in the wide position on Sunday but we think he'll play more centrally with Michael Duffy filling the wide berth.

The Shantallow man is one of the best players that Derry have produced in the last few years, which says a lot considering the talent that has come though the Brandywell, because he has that unique ability to beat his man down the line or cut in to devastating effect.


The man who will be most responsible for containing the dynamic Derry man is Greg Bolger who himself is probably the best holding midfielder in the country.

The Wexford man is absolutely vital to how Pats play because he sets the tempo from deep and links up the play superbly. Bolger constantly looks to get on the ball and is the vital cog in the team because he gets the likes of Keith Fahey, Killian Brennan and Conan Byrne involved in the more dangerous areas.

Bolger is probably one of the best passers in the country but he also has those essential ingredients that all good defensive midfielders require, positional awareness and a bit of a nasty streak when required.

Christy Fagan v Ryan McBride (if fit)


The Saints do offer a considerable goal threat in the final third but their lethal marksman Christy Fagan is definitely the main man.

Nominated for player of the year, this season has been a remarkable one for Fagan in front of goal and he has been the shining light in an otherwise poor season at Inchicore.

20 league goals speak for themselves and Fagan is probably the best finisher in the league, give him one chance and he'll usually score. The former Man Utd trainee has that unique ability to come alive in the box and he is pretty quick when it comes to getting in behind defenders over the first 10 yards.

Fagan has been instrumental in St Pats' road to the final.


The man who we think will be tasked with stopping the league's top scorer will be Ryan McBride, if he's fit. The local boy has become a rock at the heart of the Derry defence which has been much improved since the departure of Roddy Collins.

McBride was particularly impressive over the two legged semi-final win against Shamrock Rovers which culminated in him being voted fans Player of the Year by certain Derry fan groups.

The defender was unfortunately knocked unconscious in Friday’s league defeat away to Bohemians and his absence would be a massive blow to the Candystripes but we hope he is passed fit. If he is injured then Aaron Barry and possibly Shane McEleney will have a big job on their hands.

Conan Byrne and Chris Forrester v Dean Jarvis and Barry Molloy

The problem when facing St Pats is that Christy Fagan's movement and hold-up play is so good that he usually creates space for his teammates to exploit which is something their wide men do very well.

Conan Byrne must be a managers dream because the Dubliner works his socks off for the team while also offering a genuine goalscoring threat, 18 goals from midfield is a phenomenal return.

On the opposite flank is one of the most gifted players to have played in the League of Ireland for years, no more words needs to be said about Chris Forrester. He can do this.

As for the Derry City defenders, Shaun Kelly is cup-tied while Danny Ventre is only back training so we expect the vastly experienced skipper Barry Molloy to continue at right-back.

Molloy will be looking to complete a unique hat-trick of cup final wins against the Saints but this could be the hardest final he has to play yet.

On the opposite flank will be the quietly impressive Dean Jarvis who has represented Northern Ireland at every level from U-16 to U-21 level. Jarvis has been solid since returning from Aberdeen and has nailed down the left-back spot which has been a worry for City fans for the past few years.

Whatever way the match finishes, here's hoping for a repeat of the 2012 cracker.