From Macdara Ferris at Tallaght Stadium
A teenage Shamrock Rovers team made it through to the next round of the Leinster Senior Cup when they eliminated St Mochta's, the Leinster Senior League champions, 2-1 in Tallaght on Wednesday evening.
With the Shamrock Rovers first team squad only flying back from their warm weather pre-season tournament in the Algarve earlier in the day, it was a Hoops under-19 team that lined out at a bitterly cold Tallaght Stadium.
Aidan Price was in the charge from the dugout as his team of teenagers took on St. Mochtas in this fourth round Leinster Senior Cup tie.
The much more experienced team from a League of Ireland perspective was St Mochta's who had plenty of players with both Premier Division and First Division games under their belts.
However, certainly in the first half, the Leinster Senior League champions were second best to a Rovers team that had seven players on senior debut – with the remaining players’ only appearance in Rovers colours coming in last year’s Leinster Senior Cup defeat in Kilkenny away to Thomastown.
Within two minutes of the start former Rovers strikers combined as Dean Kelly – who won the league with the Hoops in 2011 – was wasteful from Karl Somers square pass.
Jason Marks, another player with plenty of League of Ireland experience, couldn’t find the Rovers goal with his effort mid-way through the half. The ball ventured towards the building site behind the Hoops goal where construction of the new south stand in Tallaght Stadium has begun.
The youthful Rovers side began to get in behind the Mochta's defence with Sean Callen’s header going close from a Brandon Kavanagh corner. Kavanagh then earned another corner when his free kick clipped the top of the Mochtas wall, just going over Mark Osbourne’s crossbar on the half-hour mark.
Dean Williams also went close two minutes later with a shot that went over, however 60 seconds later the home side took the lead.
Kavanagh had proved useful from set pieces throughout the first half and it was from the penalty spot that he put the Hoops 1-0 in front. The Mochta's full back Niall O’Reilly barged into Kavanagh in the penalty area.
The away side – and their supporters who made up a vocal element of a small crowd in Tallaght – were decidedly unhappy when referee Ben Connolly pointed to the spot. Kavanagh, the former Bohs under-19 player, made no mistake in dispatching the spot kick.
Mochtas did go close just before the half time whistle, with Denis Moran’s close in effort smothered by Kian Clarke in the Rovers goal.
Mochta's manager Brian McCarthy obviously had some strong words with his team at half time and they came out all fired up in the second half
Kelly scored a superb early goal, ghosting past a couple of Rovers defenders two minutes after the break to equalise. His effort beat by Clarke albeit with the help of a deflection. Clarke had already had his gloves warmed up with a Philly Hughes shot from distance moments earlier.
Just a few minutes later it looked like Mochtas would get a penalty of their own as Karl Somers was bundled over in the box after latching onto a Hughes pass. It required Cian Collins to clear the resulting scramble off the Rovers line.
It was an error just after the hour mark by Osbourne, who got caught by Williams outside the Mochta's box, that handed the Hoops a goal. The striker cleverly squared to Evan Smithers who rifled Rovers’ second goal home.
There was a long delay when substitute Gavin Kearney came off worse in a clash of heads with Emmanuel Lawal, resulting in the Saints player being stretchered off.
A Williams through ball gave White a chance to wrap things up in the final minutes but a beautifully timed block by O'Reilly for a corner prevented the goal. Moments later a one-two between Smithers and Williams gave Smithers a sight of goal but he couldn’t score his second.
The visitors put concerted pressure on the Hoops in the nine minutes of additional time at the conclusion of the 90 and there were chances for both teams.
Mochtas almost conceded a goal only for a superb double Osbourne save off Williams and White after Lawal made a lung busting run from inside his own half. With Simon Dixon’s header just clearing the Hoops crossbar at the other end, Rovers did enough to make it through to the next round.
Shamrock Rovers: Kian Clarke; Cian Collins, Adam O’Connor, Sean Callan, Eric Abulu; Evan Smithers, Harry Cornally ©; Emmanuel Lawal, Brandon Kavanagh, Kenny Cunningham (Evan White 19); Dean Williams.
Subs Not Used: Gavin Bazuna, Conor Gleeson, Darragh O’Connor, Darren Prendergast, Richie English, Clayton Walsh
Booked: Sean Callan (55), Dean Williams (90+4).
St Mochtas: Mark Osbourne; Niall O’Reilly, Craig Sheridan ©, Anthony Murphy (Gavin Kearney 72 (Simon Dixon 84)), Sean Byrne; David Somers, Denis Moran, Philip Hughes, Jason Marks (Thomas Crawley 66); Carl Somers; Dean Kelly.
Subs Not Used: Mark O’Neill, Ciaran Ryan, John Lyons, David Goodall.
Booked: Jason Marks (45+1), Karl Somers (53), Philip Hughes (60), Anthony Murphy (63).
Referee: Ben Connolly
Attendance: 500 (estimate)
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Brandon Kavanagh (Shamrock Rovers)