While many eyes on Monday afternoon were on Giovanni Trapattoni’s Euro 2012 Squad announcement that contained six former League of Ireland players, in Tallaght Stadium Shamrock Rovers and St. Patrick’s Athletic packed their Leinster Senior Cup teams with potential future stars of the domestic game. In this quarter final clash, it was a youthful Rovers team that prevailed 3-0 against Pats with goals from Sean Gannon, Dean Ebbe and Aaron Greene.
Both managers brought in players from their under 19’s squad with Rovers’ Conor McCormack being the only player to start in this cup game for either side who had also played in the League last Friday night. For Stephen Kenny he was able to bring the experienced Colin Hawkins, Kerrea Gilbert, Stephen O’Donnell and Aaron Greene into his Rovers team alongside the younger players.
Pats, who were captained by Pat Flynn on the day, created some good chances in the opening period of the game. The first chance saw the visitors force a corner just three minutes into the game. Ryan Coombes delivery was controlled by Ian Daly at the edge of the six yard box but Gilbert closed the midfielder down to concede another corner. Next Kevin Dempsey got free on the left and cutting inside, his low shot was held by Rovers South African goalkeeper Reyadd Pieterse low to his left on six minutes.
18-year-old Lorcan Shannon was a constant treat down the left for Shamrock Rovers throughout the game and put in a man-of-the-match performance. His side strung a series of first half corners together. Dean Ebbe laid off Shannon’s first corner on the left to Conor McCormack whose shot went behind for another corner on 11 minutes.
Half way through the opening period, Shannon cut nicely inside Eoin Hyland but his shot couldn’t trouble Lee Brandon in the Pats goal. Shannon then played a fine ball in to Rovers captain Stephen O’Donnell. Aidan Price was in a good position to get a block on O’Donnell’s shot to concede another corner.
Rovers couldn’t take advantage from Shannon’s good deliveries from the next set of corners as first Ebbe and then Hawkins had chances in the box. On the half hour mark Pieterse had to be on his toes to save from Coombes. McCormack had another opportunity for Rovers from a Shannon pass but his shot went well over the bar.
Rovers should have opened the scoring on 33 minutes as three players were queuing up to convert Shannon’s cross on the left. Hyland at right back was given a torrid time by Shannon and his ball fizzed across the six-yard box. Greene, Ebbe and Kerrea Gilbert, getting forward from right back, all dived to get a decisive touch on the ball but they couldn’t force it home.
Just on half time Rovers made it 1-0. The move came after Greene had got a shot away. Rovers were able to pick up the ball again through Shannon who played the ball across the box and eventually the unmarked Sean Gannon got on the ball. The 20 year old had time and space to slot the ball home low into the bottom left corner of the goal to give the Hoops a half time lead.
There was a great opportunity for Rovers to double that lead on 53 minutes as Greene ran onto a weak back pass by Hyland. Brandon did well to force Greene wide and Ebbe couldn’t finish the square ball back from Greene when he really should have. However, the home side did get their second goal on the hour mark with Ebbe getting on the score sheet this time. McCormack was fouled just outside the box but referee Coombes played on as the ball ran to Ebbe inside the box. He managed to steer the ball into the goal off the left hand post to make it 2-0.
Liam Buckley switched his side to three at the back after this as they chased the game. They were unlucky not to score when Dean Kelly’s crisp shot hit the bar from a Kevin Farragher pass. Minutes later Kelly got another shot away from a free kick wide on the left. The Pats players and fans called for a goal but Pieterse diving on top of the ball on his line just about kept the ball out. Next Pats were calling for a penalty as Conor Pepper diving for a header with Gilbert in the box felt he was pulled back but the ref indicated it wasn’t a penalty.
It was Rovers’ turn to hit the bar on 76 minutes as Greene picked up an O’Donnell pass and got by Price to shoot but the ball bounced down off the cross bar and away to safety for Pats. Shortly after this let off for Rovers, there was a long delay as referee Coombes went down with a leg injury. The game was stopped for over eight minutes and the fourth official had to come on to officiate for the remainder of the game.
Ian Daly had a chance to score for Pats during the 13 minutes of injury time when Kelly’s touch came to him outside the box. Pieterse made a great double save following Daly’s chance to prevent a Pats goal. It was Rovers who got the final goal of this entertaining game as Aaron Greene got an opportunity in the Pats box to fire home and make it 3-0 just before the final whistle.
Shamrock Rovers: Reyaad Pieterse; Kerrea Gilbert, Colin Hawkins, Donal Branagan, Jack Memery; Sean Gannon, Conor McCormack, Stephen O’Donnell, Lorcan Shannon (Tom O’Rourke 98); Dean Ebbe (Sean Dixon 96), Aaron Greene.
Subs not used: Oscar Jansson, Lee Steacy, Karl McGrath, Dean Power, Paul Moffat.
Bookings: Branagan (38).
St Patrick's Athletic: Lee Brandon; Eoin Hyland, Aidan Price, Kevin Farragher, Jake Carroll; Dean Kelly, Pat Flynn, Ryan Coombes, Kevin Dempsey (Adam O’Connor 63), Conor Pepper; Ian Daly.
Subs not used: Brendan Clarke, Rob Cornwall, Jamie McGlynn, Aaron Behan, Mario Chindea, Niall Conran.
Bookings: Carroll (51).
Referee: Darren Coombes.
Attendance: 750 (estimate).
extratime.ie Man of the Match: Lorcan Shannon.