Second half goals from Sean O’Connor and Brandon Miele helped Shamrock Rovers to a place in the 2015 EA Sports Cup quarter-finals at the expense of Cabinteely in Stradbrook on Easter Monday.
Hoops boss Pat Fenlon opted to make a number of changes from Friday night’s league win over Galway United. While it took the players coming into the team the first half to settle into competitive action, the quality available to Rovers eventually shone through.
The Hoops forced the first opening of a drab first half after five minutes, as Gary McCabe cut in from the right. His curling cross with the outside of his boot to the far post just evaded the outstretched left foot of Rovers skipper Stephen McPhail.
Cabinteely had their only real chance of the half a couple of minutes later. Former Rovers B team man Kevin Knight headed John McKeown’s corner over Barry Murphy’s cross-bar when he should have really scored.
The majority of the Hoops’ first half display was sloppy and rushed. That was typified by Murphy’s kick out which went out for a throw in on the half hour mark.
Miele started for Pat Fenlon’s side after his wonder goal on Friday night and it was the winger who had the away side’s first effort of the night, as he fired an effort a couple of yards wide of Evan Whelan’s post.
There was one more opportunity for Rovers to breakthrough three minutes short of half time, as McCaffrey dribbled in from the right, before shooting tamely into the hands of Whelan in the Cabo goal.
The second half was six minutes old before there was any real effort on goal. Gerard Pender eventually took control of a loose ball on the edge of the area, but his shot was tame and easy for Hoops stopper Murphy.
Pender was starting to look a threat up top for Cabo and had another opportunity moments later. He took a ball from the right down with his chest, before seeing his volley well blocked by Hoops full-back Tim Clancy.
The game needed a spark of creativity and to be fair to Rovers right back Clancy tried to provide it, but his 25 yard free kick sailed safely wide of Whelan’s post.
Long balls were a feature of the play all night and it was one from Rovers defender Robert Cornwall that found Sean O’Connor to produce the opening goal of the night. O’Connor’s header looped over Whelan and into the net 13 minutes into the second half.
The Hoops began to take control of the tie and found themselves two up six minutes later. Sean O’Connor’s corner was cleared only as far as the edge of the box, where a powerful clearance from a member of the Cabo defence fired the ball off Hoops winger Brandon Miele's boot and into the net.
Chances were beginning to flow for Rovers and substitute Gary McCabe could have made it three on 67 minutes, but his 20 yard free kick hit the base of Whelan’s post and travelled to safety.
Miele had a chance for his second of the game with 18 minutes to go, as he controlled a diagonal pass from the right, before seeing his effort well saved by Cabo net-minder Whelan.
Following a Rovers period of pressure the game began to tail off. However, the crowd were given something to shout about with nine minutes to go as the injured referee Adriano Reale was replaced by fourth official Derek Tomney.
Cabo pushed for a reply late on, but their efforts were in vein and the visitors held on to book their place in the quarter-final draw.
Cabinteely: Evan Whelan; Daniel Campbell (Lloyd Cairns 74), Victor Ekanem, Robert Maloney (c), Jamie McGlynn; Shane O’Neill (Bobinel Manonzo 77), Evan Finnegan, John McKeown, Kevin Knight; Gerard Pender, Jordan Buckley (Conor Foley 68).
Subs Not Used: Aaron Brilly, Jamie Broderick, Gavin Fahy, Sean Hyland.
Booked: V. Ekanem (6).
Shamrock Rovers: Barry Murphy; Tim Clancy, Robert Cornwall, Maxime Blanchard, Luke Byrne; Ryan Brennan, Stephen McPhail (c), Gary McCabe; Brandon Miele, Gareth McCaffrey (Kieran Marty Waters 62), Sean O’Connor (Dylan Kavanagh 78).
Subs Not Used: Craig Hyland, David O’Connor, Gavin Brennan, Cian Kavanagh, Michael Drennan.
Booked: S. O’Connor (12).
Referee: Adriano Reale (Derek Tomney 81).
Attendance: 1,000 (Estimate).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Brandon Miele (Shamrock Rovers).