Thursday 23 May 2019

Stunning strikes from Keaney and Fordyce seal huge victory

Sligo Rovers 2 Shamrock Rovers 1

Jessica Farry

A stunning free-kick from Jack Keaney earned a valuable and unforgettable three points for Sligo Rovers against Shamrock Rovers at a sun-basked Showgrounds on Saturday night.

Daryl Fordyce's first goal for the Sligo gave them the lead early in the second-half when his gorgeous curling shot beat Alan Mannus before a brilliantly executed overhead kick from Aaron Greene made it 1-1. Keaney's second-half free-kick sealed the victory for the hosts - all three goals worthy of places in a goal of the month competition.

Rovers came into this game unbeaten in their last three games, picking up five points from their last four fixtures, with Liam Buckley's side hoping for three points to see them move level with Waterford.

The Hoops were sitting top of the table, three points clear of Dundalk, when they travelled to Sligo. Stephen Bradley's side have picked up two defeats from their last three games - hardly desirable form for a team who are being spoken about as potential champions.

Rovers had the best of the early opportunities, first Regan Donelon's volley just whizzed past Alan Mannus' post, before Alan Mannus had to push away a Fordyce header from Donelon's cross.

Dylan Watts sent his effort just across the face of Mitchell Beeney's goal on 15 minutes.

There were few chances of note following the busy opening 15 minutes, until an ambitious effort from Ronan Coughlan from 35 yards was just over the bar.

The Bit O'Red should have opened the scoring just before half-time when Donelon's free-kick was just headed over the target by David Cawley.

Liam Buckley's side have only one victory over their Dublin namesakes in their last five meetings, but it was the men in red who went ahead after 55 minutes.

As Ronan Coughlan looked for an outlet as he went forward, he pulled it back for Fordyce.

The Belfast man, who was standing 25 yards from the target, decided to have a go at goal and his stunning effort curled gloriously around Mannus to make it 1-0 to the home side.

The visitors piled the pressure on the Sligo rearguard and were back on level terms 11 minutes later.

Trevor Clarke's cross came to Greene, who eloquently took a touch before going for the spectacular, flinging his overhead kick into the back of the net.

And eight minutes later, the hosts went ahead once again.

As a free-kick was awarded to the Bit O'Red and Donegal man Jack Keaney stood over it, fans recalled his stunning effort against Dundalk on the opening day of the season.

Stood 35 yards from goal, Keaney's pile-driver flew past Mannus which resulted in mayhem as the Donegal man celebrated in front of the visiting fans.

The Tallaght faithful were unimpressed, with a fan wanting to make their feelings known by hoping over the fence and on to the pitch to confront the players before security and Gardai intervened.

Events on the pitch were far less fiery following Keaney's strike, with Sligo Rovers merely sitting out the remaining time to earn a valuable and well deserved three points.

That result sees Shamrock Rovers lead by just three points at the top with a game extra played, while Sligo Rovers occupy 7th spot, level on points with Waterford in sixth.

Rovers travel South to the Regional Sports Centre in Waterford on Saturday night.

Sligo Rovers: Mitchell Beeney; John Mahon, Dante Leverock, Johnny Dunleavy (Kris Twardek 26); Lewis Banks, Regan Donelon; David Cawley, Jack Keaney; Daryl Fordyce (Niall Morahan, 90); Romeo Parkes, Ronan Coughlan.

Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Joey O'Brien, Lee Grace, Roberto Lopes, Trevor Clarke; Ronan Finn, Greg Bolger (Joel Coustrain, 85); Dylan Watts (Dan Carr, 76), Aaron McEneff, Jack Byrne; Aaron Greene.

Referee: Graham Kelly.

Sligo Champion