Shamrock Rovers produced an exceptional first-half display when overcoming Dublin rivals St Patrick’s Athletic by 2-0 in their sparky FAI Ford Cup quarter-final at Richmond Park last night.
Of more concern to the Saints however will be the injuries suffered by both Killian Brennan and Shane McFaul which necessitated their replacement and with Stephen Maher having broken his leg in The Brandywell last Saturday, Liam Buckley’s midfield options are diminishing at an alarming rate.
In contrast, the Hoops would have been especially pleased with the manner of their display given their travails against the Saints five weeks ago as they succumbed by 4-0 and they made the perfect start as Ronan Finn glanced a superb opener in the 16th minute from Conor Powell’s centre.
The hosts threatened sporadically with Daryl Kavanagh at the hub of most of their attacking play but they proved wasteful in the final third with Christy Fagan blazing horribly wide in the 27th minute from an acute angle.
Rovers were far brighter and it was of scant surprise when they doubled their lead in the 33rd minute as Shane Robinson volleyed home acrobatically from eight yards as Jason McGuinness made a nuisance of himself in the home penalty area.
There were visible signs of tetchiness from both sides as the half progressed and they continued after the break with Finn and John Russell sparking a melee that involved up to twelve players as the pace was maintained at a frenetic level.
Both Ger O’Brien and Russell forced sublime saves from the impressive Barry Murphy in their vain attempts to force a comeback while at the opposite end, Gary McCabe’s audacious attempt was finger-tipped to safety via his own crossbar by Brendan Clarke.
The hosts’ disappointment was compounded by the 79th dismissal of Greg Bolger after a foul on McCabe with Pat Sullivan’s sending-off four minutes later failing to dampen the celebrations of the jubilant away support.