Sport Soccer

Sunday 17 December 2017

Sheppard and Dennehy make sure of Hoops' progress to spot in decider

Shamrock Rovers 2
Sligo Rovers 1
(Shamrock Rovers win 4-1 on aggregate)

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Trailing by two goals from the first leg, Sligo came to Tallaght with an approach that made this game entertaining, although it couldn't alter Shamrock Rovers' march to the Setanta Cup final.

Paul Cook's charges were filleted in the Showgrounds last Tuesday, and he left some established stars on the bench and went with a 4-2-4 formation here as they attempted to scale a mountain and continue their excellent cup record over the Dubliners.

An early Eoin Doyle header gave the Bit O'Red hope, but it only really lasted for five minutes as a Shamrock Rovers picked open the available gaps to seize the lead on the night before the interval.

The Hoops will now encounter old foes Dundalk in the decider. The spice between the respective camps should ensure that a tournament which has lost its initial appeal will at least have a final of substance.

Sligo tried to muscle in on the occasion, but a rearguard that has shone in the league this term was exposed once more in this sphere.


Cook risked leaving them exposed with a forward-minded selection, yet he will have been disappointed by the manner in which his team conceded the advantage they seized in the third minute, when an Alan Keane delivery was dispatched by Doyle.

Five minutes later, the league champions were level. Billy Dennehy, the only change to the side that drew with Bohemians last Friday, was involved in its creation, with Karl Sheppard confidently finding the top corner.

Dennehy grabbed the second for the hosts on 25 minutes, yet the glory went to Ronan Finn. The ex-Fingal man weaved his way into the area and produced a pull-back that made it easy for Dennehy.

Goalkeeper Alan Mannus was brought into action after the break as Sligo pressed with intent. The Northern Irishman brilliantly denied Aaron Greene in a period where Doyle was twice wasteful.

Sligo needed three more goals at that point, though, and while the arrival of Raffaele Cretaro, Richie Ryan and Alan Kirby added some impetus, the subs were effectively on a hiding to nothing.

Indeed, Michael O'Neill was able to rotate his resources in response, something he will be doing regularly next month with the final joining an already crowded schedule. All things considered, it's not a bad complaint.

Shamrock Rovers -- Mannus, Sullivan, Murray, Oman, Stevens; McCormack (McCabe 64), Finn, Rice; Sheppard, Dennehy (Kavanagh 79); O'Neill (Kelly 71)

Sligo Rovers -- Clarke, Keane, Peers, Foran, Davoren; Ventre (Ryan 69), Ndo; Horgan (Kirby 76), Doyle, McGoldrick (Cretaro 45), Greene.

Ref -- R Crangle (Belfast)

Irish Independent

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