Date: 8 p.m. May 9, 2009
Venue: The Showgrounds
Ref: Neil Doyle
Att: 2,400 (est)
The game started with an ebb and a flow, as both Rovers traded early chances within the first ten minutes. Shane Robinson gave the ball its first flight towards goal in the seventh minute, as his shot was headed towards the top right corner of the net, but Richard Brush dealt with the chance, and parried the ball away to safety. The Bit O'Red's first opportunity arose when Gavin Peers was taken down near the left touchline on the ninth minute. Owen Morrison took the free, and nearly curled it in as it swerved low and hard through the melée of players in the box.
The game continued to be a tightly contested for the next fifteen minutes, until the 25th minutes when the visitors took the game by the scruff of the neck and stuck two goals past Brush in quick succession. The first of the two came when Shane Robinson sent a high cross in to the box which was well recovered, and recrossed the ball to Padraig Amond in the Sligo six yard box, who had the easy task of tapping the ball in from close range, as the Sligo defence was torn apart.
The raggedy remains of a wretched defence were ripped open again three minutes later, when Gary Twigg backheeled the ball to Amond on the outside of the box. Amond sweetly struck the ball to the bottom left hand corner to give the keeper no chance and the rest of the half dragged to a close, as Sligo seemed to seek the safety of dressing room.
The second half sprang into life as Sligo put up a brief fight which resulted in one chance for the home side. Coincidentally just as in the first half, Owen Morrison's forty fifth minute free arose when Gavin Peers was fouled at the edge of the box just as at the beginning of the first half. His free, however, dipped over the bar.
The sides then traded chances again, as Amond should have reserved the match ball on the hour when Shane Robinson squared the ball to him after a run down the wing. Amond's shot was easy though for Brush to save. Seven minutes later, Morrison stuck a high loopy cross into the box, to which the little man Rafael Cretaro rose highest. He, fortunately for the Hoops, failed to hit the back of the net with his header.
The Tallaght side then closed out the game with twenty minutes left, when Conor O'Grady fouled the ever impressive Shane Robinson in the box following a Shamrock Rovers counter attack. His tug on Robinson set the former Drogheda player up to take the penalty himself as he wanted the goal which his display deserved. He sent the ball the keeper's left, and as Brush dived to his right, it was game over and the traffic flow away from the ground began a bit earlier than usual.
A final triad of chances saw the game come to its end, but not without incident either. Immediately after the goal. Conor O'Grady flicked the ball through for Rommy Boco in the Hoops box. Boco, however, failed to force Murphy into action and sent the ball just to the right of the post. A further chance fell to Boco, before Alan Keane was hauled down by Stephen Rice in the 81st minute.
The Sligo penalty taker, Parkhouse, sent the ball low and to the right. The Shams keeper Barry Murphy was equal to it, though, and sent the ball around his left hand post. Just before the final whistle, Stephen Rice had the last chance of the evening when he volleyed the ball over from just about the penalty spot.
It must be noted that Sligo's evening was marred by the sending off of local lad Conor O'Grady 18 minutes before full time after he kicked out at Patrick Flynn following a foul by Flynn. This will further stretch the Sligo squad, which is already feeling the strain of recent injuries and suspensions.
extratime Man of the Match: Tough to call between Amond and Robinson, but I felt that Shane Robinson just shaded it. His attacking play was the key to the play which tore a Sligo defence which actually didn't play that bad apart and his link play between a dominant midfield and a potent strikeforce was invaluable to Shamrock Rovers tonight.
Sligo Rovers:Brush, Keane, Peers, Feeney (Keohane 60), Ventre, Cash (Parkhouse 55), O'Grady (captain), Ryan (Torpey 73), Morrison, Boco, Cretaro.
Subs not used: Kelly, McLoughlin.
Shamrock Rovers: Murphy, Cameron (Madden 89), Maguire, Rice, Flynn, Robinson (captain), Rice, Bradley, Cahill, Twigg (Purcell 75), Amond (McGill 86).
Subs not used: Duggan, Price.
Referee: N. Doyle.