Sport League of Ireland

Monday 19 August 2019

Carr goal the difference as Hoops begin drive to end cup famine

Shamrock Rovers1 Finn Harps 0

Daniel Carr of Shamrock Rovers in action against Raffael Cretaro of Finn Harps. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Daniel Carr of Shamrock Rovers in action against Raffael Cretaro of Finn Harps. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

The storied history of Shamrock Rovers is rich in tales of FAI Cup glory.

But it really is history now. Thirty-two years have passed since Rovers collected the trophy for the 24th time, and every current member of staff is well aware of what that famine means to supporters.

With Dundalk in a position of control at the top of the Premier Division table, the competition is also the most realistic avenue for Stephen Bradley's side to mark a season of improvement with silverware. Their season could be defined by how this cup run pans out.

So that's why Rovers went with a strong side in order to get the job done here, although they laboured for long spells in Tallaght with Dan Carr's first-half strike surprisingly providing the game's only goal.

Drawing conclusions on the basis of one game is foolish, but this exercise will still have left Bradley with food for thought.

Graham Burke started his second spell for the Hoops as a central striker, positioned ahead of Jack Byrne but both playmakers roamed to get on the ball.

Aaron McEneff of Shamrock Rovers in action against Daniel O'Reilly of Finn Harps. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Aaron McEneff of Shamrock Rovers in action against Daniel O'Reilly of Finn Harps. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Indeed, nailing Rovers players down to positions would be too simplistic as their movement was fluid.

But the fact that Burke was relocated to a deeper role at half-time with Aaron Greene brought in through the middle is evidence that Rovers face a challenge to find the best way to accommodate their talented personnel. That said, other teams would afford Rovers more room to show what they can do.

The bigger prize for Finn Harps is Premier Division survival and their manager, Ollie Horgan, rotated a couple of his options here after an impressive run.

Still, they worked hard with a three-man defence and packed midfield in an attempt to make life difficult.

After an early let-off when Ronan Finn's header struck the post, they dug in and tried to make their superior hosts work hard for their chances.

But it was a moment of quality from the Hoops that broke the deadlock with Finn displaying vision and a high level of execution to find Carr with an accurate long ball that the Englishman spectacularly converted with the help of the woodwork.

Gary O'Neill of Shamrock Rovers in action against Mark Timlin of Finn Harps. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Gary O'Neill of Shamrock Rovers in action against Mark Timlin of Finn Harps. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Burke missed a sitter before the break, and Greene squandered a pair of opportunities after his introduction that might have removed suspense from proceedings - Mark McGinley did do well to block the first before Greene blazed over the bar from Byrne's through ball. Indeed, there were nervous moments for the natives as Harps finished strongly with Alan Mannus pushing a shot from Nathan Boyle sub onto the woodwork as Horgan's men made a brave but unsuccessful attempt to send this tie the distance.

Rovers now have to prove that they are capable of lasting the course and prolonging their season to an Aviva Stadium date in early November.

Shamrock Rovers - Mannus, Boyle (Greene 45), Lopes, Grace, Kavanagh; O'Neill, McEneff; Finn, Byrne, Carr (Cummins 84); Burke (Watts 64)

Finn Harps - McGinley, O'Reilly, Smith, Todd; Deasy, G Harkin, Ascroft, R Harkin (McNamee 77), Russell; Cretaro (Place 77), Timlin (Boyle 69)

Ref - P Tuite (Dublin)

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