€200k windfall for Shamrock Rovers as they progress in Europe
Shamrock Rovers 3 Progres Niederkorn 0
AFTER two years of painful exclusion from Europe, Shamrock Rovers intend to make their return to the UEFA stage a lengthy one as they eased past Luxembourg opposition on a rainy night in Dublin and immediately set their sights on a trip to Norway.
A 0-0 draw away to Progrès Niederkorn last week was the platform for success and Pet Fenlon’s men used those foundations well to finish off their opponents in Dublin, first half goals from Dave Webster and Kieran Marty Watters setting Pat Fenlon’s men on the way before Watters added his second after the break.
Progress past Progrès gives Rovers another €200,000 payday and they now are almost certain to face Norwegian opposition in Europe for the first time - the Hoops face the winners of the first round tie between Moldovan side Sheriff and Norway’s Odds BK, but the Norwegians take a 3-0 lead into their home leg tomorrow night, a game which Fenlon will attend on a scouting mission now that his side’s place in the second round is secure.
The intense heat in Luxembourg last week may have stifled Rovers but they were more at home on a soggy, grey night in Tallaght and by half time they were on their way to their first home win in seven European ties.
Progrès, despite their lack of experience (this was the club’s first time to play in Europe since 1982), were no mugs and with Alessandro Fiorani making runs from midfield, were a threat to Craig Hyland’s goal. They had a number of half-chances before Rovers took the lead on 21 minutes. Defender David Webster picked a good time to score his first goal of the season as that breakthrough goal eased the nerves of the home support, Webster side-footing the ball home after Brandon Miele knocked on a Watters free kick.
Aware that an away goal would get them right back into the tie, Progrès pressed forward as Olivier Cassan and Lev Rougeaux had chances.
But once Watters gave Rovers that 2-0 lead just before the break, it would take an almighty collapse to deny the Hoops. There was a touch of fortune about the goal on 41 minutes as keeper Samuel Dog dropped Simon Madden’s cross and Watters was left free to tap home.
There was still a hint of menace from the away side as even one away goal would have opened the door, but a well-drilled Rovers stood firm and even found time to score again, Watters netting the best goal of the night on 57 minutes. Simon Madden started the move, Patrick Cregg and Mikey Drennan played the middlemen, and Watters was unmarked to finish well.