The tenth season in Tallaght for Shamrock Rovers begins with some Leinster Senior Cup action on Wednesday evening against St. Mochtas (kick-off 7.30pm).
The Hoops have spent the last week or so in the Algarve playing in the Atlantic Cup against Swedish opposition in a pre-season warm weather competition in Portugal.
Having drawn both of their group games 0-0 against Dalkurd and Hammerby, Rovers progressed to Tuesday afternoon’s third place play-off having won penalty shootouts against both teams.
That game also finished in a draw, ending 1-1 against Norrkoping. Rovers played with ten men for much of the game following Gary Shaw’s red card and lost the shootout 4-1.
So, like their appearance in the Leinster Senior Cup last year, Rovers will likely put out a fairly youthful team against St. Mochtas. The Hoops have suffered a couple of early exits to non-league opposition in this competition over the last two seasons.
It was a Rovers under-19 team that travelled to take on Thomastown United in February last year at this stage of the competition.
Hoops head coach Stephen Bradley was concerned about the quality of the pitch in Kilkenny, and only Gary Shaw from his first team squad made the trip – the player had become a father only the previous evening. The Hoops lost the game 1-0.
The previous season the Hoops put out a side containing a mix of under-19 and senior squad players against Collinstown but were deservedly beaten 2-0 on the night by the AUL Premier Division side. That was the first time Rovers had been knocked out of any competition by a non-league side since 1979.
The Hoops will play a Brentford XI this coming Saturday before starting their league campaign in a Dublin derby at Dalymount Park against Bohemians.
The Saints come into Wednesday’s game at Tallaght Stadium on the back of a 3-1 win over Leixlip United. Former Rovers striker Dean Kelly was the man in form as he got a hat-trick in their most recent game played last Sunday.
Mochtas are currently going well in their efforts to retain their Leinster Senior League Senior Division crown.
The Blanchardstown based club are managed by Brian McCarthy with League of Ireland goalscoring legend Glen Crowe amongst their coaching staff. Colin Hawkins is their Director of Football. Hawkins was the manager of the Shamrock Rovers B team that played in the League of Ireland First Division in 2014.
Mochtas won away to North End Wexford in Ferrycarrig Park in the previous round to set up this tie in Tallaght with David Somers and Jason Marks getting the goals. The latter is yet another player in the squad with plenty of League of Ireland experience.
The 28-year-old player lined out previously in the league with Bray, Drogheda, Athlone, Monaghan and Sporting Fingal. Phily Hughes is another player that Rovers will need to keep an eye on if they are not to suffer another early exit from this competition.
The 36-year-old has played with a myriad of League of Ireland career since first lining out for St. Pat’s back in 2001.
Rovers have won this cup on 19 occasions with the last victory coming in 2013 when they beat St. Patrick’s Athletic 1-0 in the final played at Richmond Park. The Hoops were reigning cup holders then having won this competition the previous year with a 1-0 win over St. Pat’s CY. They last made the final in 2015 when they were beaten 3-1 by Dundalk in the Oriel Park final.
Saints striker Dean Kelly scored the late goal in Belfield in 2011 to secure the league title for Shamrock Rovers. The former Oldham Athletic striker played 49 games across all competitions for Rovers, scoring 12 goals.
Shamrock Rovers 1 - 1 St Mochta's (Hoops to progress on penalties)
extratime.ie will be covering Wednesday's night match in Tallaght with match updates, match report and photos.