Friday 20 April 2018

Showgrounds ready to rock as Ryan sounds Sligo battlecry

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

WITH all the doom and gloom around the capital over the St Patrick's Athletic bonus row, it would be easy to forget that Sligo Rovers are on the verge of something special on the West coast tonight.

The town is abuzz with talk of the game, the Showgrounds is sold out and the Irish side have a superb chance of progressing -- this is what European nights should be about.

Paul Cook's men are 90 minutes away from joining Shamrock Rovers and a host of big names the Europa League play-off round after their scoreless draw away at Vorksla Poltava.

They had their chances to score in the Ukraine -- Alan Kirby's miss being the best example -- but, despite not breaking the deadlock, the squad are quietly confident of progressing after they overcame a nervous start to more than hold their own.


Poltava have started their domestic season well and are second in the league after four games -- a point behind Shakhtar Donetsk after a 2-0 win over the Saints' opponents Karpaty Lviv last weekend.

Their failure to score at home may hurt them. Sligo have the best defence in the League of Ireland this season and will be confident of not conceding a killer away goal.

Midfielder Richie Ryan believes the hosts will be more than a match for their more illustrious opponents.

"The town is buzzing. It's a big game but we'll take it as it comes and hopefully do well.

"We struggled in the first half, because we didn't know much about them. We'd heard that they were a good technical team and it took us a bit to get used to them.

"Second half we looked comfortable, we dominated the game. I'm not sure if was nerves, but we kept the ball much better after the break and created a couple of good chances. It was 28 degrees as well, which we wouldn't be used to."

The club had to work hard to bring the Showgrounds up to scratch to meet UEFA's rules and although the new seats have gone in, it will be a far cry from what tonight's visitors are used to -- something that will suit Sligo.

"It would have killed the atmosphere around the town and the club if we had to move it. Hopefully, it will to be to our benefit on the night," Ryan said.

"Their stadium there is a big, open ground with 25,000 capacity and a running track which means the fans are a long way, away.

"Its not like that at the Showgrounds, they're literally sitting beside you.

It's a different environment but it shouldn't faze them if they're as big as they're supposed to be."

Sligo Rovers (probable) -- Clarke; Keane, Peers, McGuinness, Powell; Ryan, Ndo, Kirby; Cretaro, Blinkhorn, Greene.

Irish Independent

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