Senior Division 1A leaders Verona raided Carolan Park yesterday morning and came away with a place in the second round of the Gilligan Cup after they edged out underdogs Shamrock Rovers in a five-goal thriller.
The visitors withstood an early onslaught and a late revival from Rovers to pick off the home side thanks to headed goals from Colin Cassidy and Dave Lacken along with a Graham McCarthy penalty.
The Coolmine side started the tie as favourites due to their league position and in the end they were happy to leave Tallaght with their scalp intact especially after Rovers, a side sitting a league below their visitors, showed plenty of early promise in the opening exchanges.
The Hoops made early inroads into the Verona back line but the home side were denied the lead on a couple of occasions thanks to the bravery of 'keeper Chris Crowley.
Having failed to grab the lead in that bright opening, Rovers suffered a further setback when Verona went in front after 36 minutes, after a Ronny Walsh corner deflected off Colin Cassidy at the near post and the ball crept over the line.
Rovers had only three minutes to wait before they found their way back to parity. This time the goal-bound Bernard Daniels had his ankles clipped by Walsh and referee Jimmy Wynne pointed to the spot. John Woods stroked home the ensuing penalty.
After a tentative opening to the second half it was Verona who seized the initiative with just 10 minutes gone as the visitors went back in the front thanks to captain Dave Lacken, who sent a brilliant looping header over the stranded Sheridan and into the net.
Just after hour mark Verona established a two-goal cushion after Sheridan upended Lacken and referee Wynne awarded his second spot kick of the game. Graham McCarthy crashed home the penalty.
The Hoops surged forward in the closing stages in a late bid to rescue their Gilligan Cup bid and with just three minutes left they reignited their hopes when Joe Hayden headed home. The goal had Verona on edge for the final minutes, but the visitors held their nerve.
SHAMROCK ROVERS: Darren Sheridan; Darren McManus, Darren Egan, John Woods, Joe Breen, Karl Tate, Bernard Daniels, Steven Barrett, Robert Williams, Mike Fox, Ian Lowry. Subs: Shaun Griffin (McManus 70); Ross Swords (Tate 70), Joe Hayden (Williams 77), Derek Geraghty.
VERONA: Chris Crowley; Darragh Perdistat, Eamon Kidd, Dan O'Connor, Geoff Tuohy, Dave Lacken, Ronny Walsh, Colin Cassidy, Graham McCarthy, Shane O'Brien, Anthony Hayes. Subs: Mark Curtis (O'Connor 27), Gavin Quinn (Cassidy 74), John Griffin (McCarthy 86), Stephen Coyle.
Referee: Jimmy Wynne.