Goalkeeper Ciaran Kelly earned himself instant hero status among the supporters of Sligo Rovers FC after making four penalty shoot-out saves to earn his side victory in the Irish Cup final against Shamrock Rovers FC.
League champions Shamrock were chasing a double, but the honours on the last day of the 2010 season in the Republic of Ireland went to Sligo, who won 2-0 on penalties after the game had finished goalless. Kelly saved each of the four spot kicks taken by the Hoops, while Sligo duo Eoin Doyle and Gary McCabe both converted to assure Sligo of the silverware.
"I'm delighted for Ciaran as he has been such a great player for us," said manager Paul Cook. "But today is not about one man; it's about the whole team and the whole club. You can see what this win means to the people of Sligo."
A crowd of more than 36,000 were present at the new Dublin Arena for the final, the biggest cup final attendance since 1945. They saw Sligo dominate the opening stages, with Kelly's Shamrock counterpart, Alan Mannus, tested early on by Romauld Boco. Shamrock nonetheless came close to taking the lead on 75 minutes when Gavin Peers cleared off the line to deny Thomas Stewart.
There was no breakthrough, however, and the game went to extra time. Sligo received a boost when their opponents were reduced to ten men following the dismissal of Stephen Bradley but still they could find no way through. They eventually did find the net – from the spot – but it was Kelly who took the plaudits.
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