Having been knocked out at the quarter-final stage of the EA Sports Cup by the Hoops last season, Longford Town extracted revenge over Rovers by claiming a late winner in the second round of this year’s competition on Tuesday evening.
Captain Daniel O’Reilly got the winner a minute from time at Tallaght Stadium as the Hoops were dumped out the League Cup – a competition they have made the semi-final in on the last six occasions – in what was their fourth defeat in their last five competitive matches.
The First Division team were well worth their win over a Rovers side who once again didn’t go enough in front of goal to give them a platform to progress.
As it seems the norm with the EA Sports Cup, both managers made significant changes to their team’s from their most recent league fixtures – Longford’s 2-0 home defeat to UCD and Rovers’ 1-1 draw with Limerick.
Neale Fenn made five switches for De Town while Hoops Head Coach Stephen Bradley made nine changes bringing in two 17-year-olds for their first appearances in this competition.
Brandon Kavanagh, who was used as a sub against Bray recently, played in behind Gary Shaw who was facing his former team.
Eric Abulu started at left back, with the Rovers right back position filled by a player 15 years older as former Ireland international Joey O’Brien made only his second appearance for Rovers.
Longford certainly weren’t overawed by playing Premier Division opposition and Fenn had his team looking to get the ball down and play around Rovers whenever the home team stepped off and let them.
Tomer Chencinski started only his fourth game of the season for the Hoops. Early on Twice when he had the ball at his feet being closed down, he failed to clear the danger adequately – hitting balls low to a Longford player neither of whom could punish the ‘keeper.
De Town tried their luck from distance but both Jamie Hollywood and Sam Verdon seemed to have left their accurate shooting boots back in the dressingroom.
Midway through the half Luke Byrne, starting at centre half for the Hoops, allowed the ball just to beat his boot giving his name sake Dean Byrne time to turn and get a shot off that flashed just by the post.
The Hoops didn’t create much themselves in that first half. Brandon Miele was wasteful with a cross from the bye-line when he got by Karl Chambers.
When O’Brien got forward on the opposite side he danced across the ball and Aodh Dervin took him down. Kavanagh whipped the resulting Rovers set piece in from wide on the right but Jack Brady was tidy smothering a ball that spun off the wet turf.
Kavanagh’s left boot almost broke the deadlock two minutes from the break but his shot just failed to find the target and we were scoreless at half time.
It was a small crowd of 304 in Tallaght with the game going head-to-head with Liverpool’s Champions League semi-final against Roma on the TV. While the goals were raining in at Anfield, it was simply raining in Tallaght with very little second half goal action.
O’Brien got a decent hours run out for Rovers before being replaced by Ethan Boyle.
It took the Hoops 74 minutes to win their first corner of the game and they did begin to put more pressure on the visitors. In the final ten minutes they looked the most likely to get the winner.
A sweeping move drew a fine save from Brady when he pushed Dave McAllister's shot over the bar as the Hoops moved the ball through substitute Aaron Bolger and the impressive Kavanagh before Sean Boyd pulled it back to the Hoops captain.
With three minutes of the 90 remaining, once again off a Boyd pass, Kavanagh opened up his body to get a shot away that drew another good save from Brady.
Longford forced a couple of late corners and with extra-time beckoning they claimed the win with a minute to go.
Darren Meenan’s corner was cleared by Rovers but Evan Galvin set up O’Reilly on the edge of the box and he rifled a shot by the despairing dive of Chencenski for the only goal of the game.
Town move on to face Cobh Ramblers in the quarter final. For the Hoops it was their fourth defeat in their last five competitive matches and they have a difficult few games fast approaching on the horizon with a trip to Derry on Friday and the champions Cork City visiting Tallaght next Monday.
Shamrock Rovers: Tomer Chencinski; Joey O’Brien (Ethan Boyle 60), Ally Gilchrist, Luke Byrne, Eric Abulu; Sam Bone (Aaron Bolger 64); Dave McAllister ©, Brandon Kavanagh; Brandon Miele, Gary Shaw (Sean Boyd 78), Joel Coustrain.
Subs not used: Cian Clarke, Roberto Lopes, Graham Burke, Dean Dillon.
Bookings:Joey O’Brien (59), Aaron Bolger (68).
Longford Town: Jack Brady; Karl Chambers, Mick McDonnell, Daniel O’Reilly ©, Tristan Noack-Hofmann; Sam Verdon (Dean Zambra 90+3), Aodh Dervin; Darren Meenan, Jamie Hollywood (Evan Galvin 78), Dylan McGlade; Dean Byrne (Chris Mulhall 78).
Subs not used: Michael Kelly, Jackson Ryan, Daniel Ridge.
Booked:Chris Mulhall (90+4).
Referee: Tom Dempsey.
Extratime.ie man of the match: Brandon Kavanagh (Shamrock Rovers).