Kieran Marty Waters double extends Shamrock Rovers' Euro adventure
Shamrock Rovers 3 Progrès N 0 (3-0 on agg)
Published 08/07/2015 | 02:30
None of the seats reserved for the Duff family in Tallaght last night were used by a certain former Ireland international but if he was watching from somewhere inside the stadium, he would have been pleased by what he saw.
In the build-up to the game, Pat Fenlon refused to be drawn on the potential signing of Damien Duff but the prize money gained from reaching the second qualifying round of the Europa League may well go towards luring the two-time Premier League winner to Shamrock Rovers.
The Hoops are set to gain another €210,000 on top of the €200,000 they were already awarded for qualifying for Europe but reports have suggested that Duff's wages may well go straight to a charity of his choice.
After a goalless draw in the searing heat in Luxembourg a week ago, it was an altogether different and indeed more straightforward encounter in Dublin.
Rovers had already established a two-goal lead by half-time, one of which was an absolute gift and at that stage, Progres Niederkorn heads had dropped.
Kieran Marty Waters was a constant threat out wide and his double ensured the Hoops' safe passage into the next round.
The game may well have had a completely different complexion had the visitors taken one of their several first-half chances but they lacked any real conviction in front of goal.
Rovers were without the injured trio Stephen McPhail, Keith Fahey and Conor Kenna (who started on the bench) and they did at times look uncomfortable at the back - particularly from set-pieces.
The atrocious conditions caused havoc for both sides and although Dave Webster has had better games at the back, the central defender was the one who set Rovers on their way before Waters capitalised on a goalkeeping calamity.
The home side opened the scoring midway through the first half and it stemmed from Rovers' best player on the evening, Gary McCabe, who won a free-kick wide on the right.
Waters' delivery was headed clear but only as far as Brandon Miele and his scuffed shot was turned home by Webster for his first goal of the season.
Rovers in truth were fortunate to be in front as Giuseppe Rossini had earlier skewed a header wide from inside the six-yard box.
Gavin Brennan almost doubled his side's lead with a looping effort that went narrowly over the bar and when Olivier Cassan was unable to turn home Adrian Ferino's dangerous cross, the momentum swung back in Rovers' favour.
Simon Madden went bombarding down the right flank before putting in what looked like an aimless cross but the 'keeper Sebastian Flauss somehow managed to let the ball slip from his grasp and the grateful Waters was on hand to head in the rebound.
Waters grabbed his second shortly before the hour mark to kill off any slim hopes Progres may have had of mounting a comeback and this time there wasn't anything lucky about the goal.
Madden cut in from right and laid the ball off to Patrick Cregg who in turn fed Mikey Drennan and his perfectly weighted pass was smashed home by Waters for his sixth goal in six games.
Cassan fired a hopeless long-range shot high over the bar in a rare Progres foray into the Rovers half in what was an utterly one-sided second period.
Drennan had a late chance to get his name on the score sheet but he squandered a one-on-one opportunity when he shot straight at Flauss.
The fact that it was the Luxembourg side's second competitive game of the season showed as they began to tire but Rovers had long sealed their place in the next round.
Fenlon's side await the winners of tomorrow's game between FC Sheriff and Odds BK - with the latter, the Norwegian outfit, holding a 3-0 first-leg advantage.
Tougher European tests undoubtedly lie ahead but should the signing of Duff be completed, it would be another major boost for the club.
Shamrock Rovers - Hyland; Madden, Webster, Clancy, Byrne; G Brennan, McCabe, Cregg (c), Waters (R Brennan 74); Miele; Drennan (North 87).
Progrès Niederkorn - Flauss; Ferino, Dog, Bouzid (c), Fiorani (Bossi 75); Garos, S Thill (O Thill 76); Menai, Cassan, Rougeaux (Poinsignon 66); Rossini.
ref - D Ouschan (Aut)