For the second year in a row Coleraine’s Setanta Cup dreams were shattered by a last gasp goal as Dundalk broke their hearts at The Showgrounds just as Shamrock Rovers had done 12 months earier.
Oran Kearney’s men looked set to progress to a semi final meeting with Rovers as they led the tie on away goals going into stoppage time.
But Stephen O’Donnell’s 92nd strike sent the Bannsiders crashing out of the cross border competition in dramatic fashion.
It was the hosts who carved out the first opening of the game with only three minutes on the clock. Paul Owens found himself in space on the left and picked out Eoin Bradley with a cross, but Cherrie made a comfortable save.
The Dundalk stopper was forced into another save six minutes later as Stevie Lowry and Ruairi Harkin combined to tee up Gareth Tommons, Cherrie though gathered his volley at the second attempt.
The visitors finally got in on the act in the 12th minute as Richie Towell tried his luck from distance forcing Eugene Ferry into a good save at his near post.
After a shaky start Stephen Kenny’s were beginning to settle on the ball and look more dangerous going forward.
Oran Kearney’s men almost caught Dundalk on the break with 26 minutes gone. A swift breakaway saw David McDaid push the ball into to space for the onrushing Tommons, but the alert Cherrie raced off his line to clear the danger.
Dundalk responded with a counter attack of their own 10 minutes before the break as John Mountney was released down the right-hand side, he whipped a dangerous first-time ball into the box, but Patrick Hoban couldn’t direct his header on target.
Richie Towell also failed to register an effort on goal when he tried his luck from distance again from a set-piece on 39 minutes. Eoin Bradley fared a little better at the other end as he forced Cherrie into a save.
It was the visitors though who broke the deadlock six minutes after the restart. Eugene Ferry’s punch clear could only find Mountney on the edge of the box, and his ball back into the box was hooked home by Hoban at the second attempt.
Darren Meenan went close to putting the visitors in front in the tie moments later, but his first time effort was straight at Ferry.
Paul Owens almost drew the Bannsiders level on the night midway through the half as he curled a vicious corner towards goal, but Cherrie did well to claw the ball away from under the crossbar.
Dundalk spurned a great chance to grab a second on 70 minutes as Meenan picked out Towell at the back post, but his looping header only found the roof of the net.
Dundalk were dominating possession as Coleraine laboured to get out of their own half. Even trying to retain the ball was proving problematic against their southern counterparts.
David McMillan should have put the Lilywhites in front with seven minutes to go as the ball fell to him eight yards out, but his weak shot was easily saved by Ferry.
Two minutes into stoppage time up popped O’Donnell to fire in from 25 yards after Hoban had teed him up on the edge of the box.