Perth's quick-learning Dundalk to advance
Sligo Rovers may be expecting some joy against Dundalk in today's FAI Cup semi-final at The Showgrounds, based on the Lilywhites leaking two goals to Shamrock Rovers in last Monday's Premier Division decider, but they shouldn't bank on it, as their opponents are quick learners.
For instance, Dundalk's departure from Europe was notable for their failures up front and, notably, their failure to manufacture even one chance from 14 corners at home to Slovan Bratislava. Since then, in seven League games they have amassed 20 goals for the concession of two, and, in two of the games I saw, four of their eight goals emanated from corners.
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It is to Sligo's credit that they were the last team to beat Dundalk in the League, recording a 2-1 win at the Showgrounds on April 12. Dundalk's record 23-game unbeaten run in the League since is another example of lessons quickly learned by this exceptional team, led by Vinnie Perth, who has hardly put a foot wrong after taking over from the legend that is Stephen Kenny.
Those wishing to detract from the achievement of Liam Buckley's men point to the absence of key players Chris Shields, Robbie Benson and Patrick McEleney back in April, but Sligo had their own absentees - goalkeeper Ed McGinty, wing-back Regan Donelon and striker Ronan Murray - so victory was quite a feather in Sligo's cap that day, and should serve to add to their confidence today.
However, the absence through suspension of their Bermudan man-mountain centre-back Dante Leverock, who was one of their marksmen in April, is a big blow.
Significantly, Sligo have won three of the four games he has missed while suspended but the one they lost was at home to Dundalk. If ever there was a pointer to how today's game will go, that is it. Dundalk get the vote to continue their march to an historic treble of League, League Cup and FAI Cup.
FAI Cup semi-final
Sligo Rovers v Dundalk, RTE2, 5.0
Sunday Indo Sport