HOOPS INTO FINAL

Pre-match warm-up at Tallaght

Pre-match warm-up at Tallaght

SHAMROCK ROVERS 3 SLIGO ROVERS 2 at Tallaght Stadium

After suffering a 0-4 drubbing by Conan Byrne of St Patrick’s Athletic at Tallaght on Friday, Shamrock Rovers needed to pick themselves up again if they wanted to reach the EA Sports Cup final for the second year running against Drogheda United, current holders of the trophy. But the Hoops got off to the worst possible start. Rovers’ manager Trevor Croly had only just taken his seat in the press box in the middle of the stand when the visitors took the lead with their first attack after just over 30 seconds.

Shamrock Rovers manager Trevor Croly watched the match from the stand

Shamrock Rovers manager Trevor Croly (left) watched the match from the stand

Kieran Djilali put the the visitors ahead, latching on to a clever pass from Rafaele Cretaro and striking his shot past Barry Murphy into the far corner of the net. In the tenth minute more sloppy defensive play meant Murphy had to get down smartly to push Seamus Conneely’s shot around the post for a corner.

Shamrock Rovers v Sligo Rovers © Michael Fisher

Shamrock Rovers v Sligo Rovers © Michael Fisher

The home fans were delighted in the 17th minute when Rovers produced an equaliser through Karl Sheppard. For Sligo, former Hoops’ striker Aaron Greene had two chances to put them ahead again, shooting wide from a free and then heading past the post from close range following a cross from Cretaro.

Hooperman in action at Tallaght

Hooperman in action at Tallaght

Hooperman did his best to encourage the home support and  it wasn’t long before the third goal arrived, edging Rovers in front. O’Connor’s free from just outside the box deflected off the wall but Evan McMillan’s clearance only got as far as Gary McCabe, who shot past Rogers into the top corner of the net in the 27th minute. Sligo boss Ian Baraclough was forced to replace Evan McMillan with Danny Ventre just before the end of a half that saw yellow cards for Murphy, Cretaro and the Reds’ captain Gavin Peers.

Shamrock Rovers v Sligo Rovers 2nd half

Shamrock Rovers v Sligo Rovers 2nd half

Gary McCabe got his second in the 71st minute giving Rovers a 3-1 advantage. But Sligo were not finished and with eight minutes left, substitute Anthony Elding who had come on for Rafaele Cretaro nodded home Greene’s deep centre. Then a Joseph Ndo strike from just inside the box was tipped over the bar by Murphy, as the visitors sought to bring the match to extra time. A late corner, for which keeper Gary Rogers travelled to the opposition box, was the last chance for Sligo but it failed to beat the first defender and it was the Setanta Cup holders Shamrock Rovers who progressed to another final.

Shamrock Rovers 3 Sligo Rovers 2

Shamrock Rovers 3 Sligo Rovers 2

Shamrock Rovers: Barry Murphy, Conor Powell, Derek Foran, Pat Sullivan, Conor McCormack, Gary McCabe (sub Thomas Stewart 85), Shane Robinson (captain), Richie Ryan, Ronan Finn, Sean O’Connor, Karl Sheppard.

Sligo Rovers: Gary Rogers, Alan Keane, Gavin Peers (captain), Evan McMillan (sub Danny Ventre 45+1), Jeff Henderson, David Cawley, Rafaele Cretaro (sub Anthony Elding 66), Joseph Ndo, Aaron Greene,  Kieran Djilali, Seamus Conneely.

Referee: Paul McLaughlin.

Happy Days for the Rovers fans

Happy Days for the Rovers fans

DALYMOUNT ROAR FROM SLIGO

Jodi Stand

I had not ventured to Dalymount Park in Dublin for many years. I used to watch Bohemians in 1967/78 and remember some great occasions when Ireland played internationals in front of a packed crowd. I had been once I think since the new Jodi stand was erected. On Friday night (15th October) I found myself queueing to get into the ground, a bit like the old days. I thought I would end up with Bohs supporters in the “shed” behind the goalmouth. In fact this is the territory of away fans, in this case Sligo Rovers. I joined hundreds of them singing and applauding their team in an FAI Ford Cup semi-final. The atmosphere was great and the Red and White Army did everything they could to boost the players as they attacked into the goal they stood behind in the first half. Sligo had a couple of chances but it was scoreless at half-time.

As the RTÉ Sport report described it (new window) http://tinyurl.com/27j2mg5 Rovers went very close to opening the scoring on 11 minutes when Romauld Boco shrugged off Powell to get on the end of Matthew Blinkhorn’s excellent cross. Boco chipped the advancing Murphy but sent his effort over the bar.  Boco got a shot on target on 14 minutes but Murphy dived to his right and saved well. In the second half Rovers enjoyed a superb spell of pressure with twenty minutes remaining, with excellent passing football and creativity. They were rewarded for their effort with the winning goal on 75 minutes when Gavin Peers got his head to Richie Ryan’s corner and sent the ball into the net. So the westerners secured their place in this year’s final at the Aviva stadium next month. Their opponents will not be known for another few days as Shamrock Rovers and St Patrick’s Athletic drew 2-2 in the other semi-final. The Sligo fans went away happy and on this display their team will probably be considered favourites in the final. I thought Friday night’s game was a great advertisement for Irish soccer. I also hope Dalymount will continue to witness many many more years of football. But it will require more money to be spent on the stadium to update the facilities around the ground.

Sligo Rovers fans celebrate a 1-0 victory over Bohs