Dennehy puts seal on Hoops' ruthless rout of Athlone
SHAMROCK ROVERS 4, ATHLONE TOWN 0,
THERE was to be no romance at Tallaght Stadium last night, none of the magic of the Cup. Instead, Shamrock Rovers cruised past Athlone Town with barely a hiccup, clinically dispatching the struggling First Division outfit.
With the League and Setanta Cups already in the trophy cabinet, the FAI Ford Cup is next on the list. It's been 24 years since the Hoops lifted it for the 24th time and the success-hungry Hoops want to make up for their penalty-shootout heartache of last season's final.
Alan Mannus and Gary Twigg were not risked by Michael O'Neill, who made seven changes to the side that beat Bohemians in midweek.
The Hoops took the lead within 12 minutes of kick-off through Gary McCabe and never looked troubled thereafter. The winger was given too much room and made no mistake with a sweetly struck finish after Ciaran Kilduff has laid off Billy Dennehy's cross at his feet.
Ronan Stack rescued the midlanders when Kilduff beat the former Mayo minor 'keeper to Conor McCormack's cross, only for the winger to clear off the line.
Athlone's plight looked desperate and they found themselves in deeper trouble within two minutes of half-time. Dennehy's free was met by Chris Turner and his header flew into the net. There would be no way back.
The Hoops looked content to see it out after that and as O'Neill used his three subs it was one of those, Dean Kelly, who added a third with his first goal for the club -- tucking the ball home from Kilduff's flick.
He was keen to impress and struck the post minutes later, but he did tee-up Billy Dennehy for a fourth.
SHAMROCK ROVERS -- Thompson; Gannon, Sives (Flynn 79), Murray, McCormack; McCabe, O'Donnell, Turner (Rice 75), Dennehy; O'Neill (Kelly 68), Kilduff.
ATHLONE TOWN -- Shlingermann; Scullion, Barrett, Danaher, Carr; Stack (Gardiner 65), Relihan, Young (Sweeney 53), Williamson, Monaghan; Tier.
REF -- T Connolly (Dublin).