Robbie Fahy reports from Market Green
A hat-trick from David Cawley meant Sligo Rovers avoided consecutive first round FAI Cup exits with a ruthless second half performance in Balbriggan tonight.
First-half goals from David Cawley and Regan Donelon left non-league Glebe North with a mountain to climb at the break.
Despite showing an improved attacking intent and a good utilization of a press in the middle third in the second half, the hots were unable to recover from two moments of magic from the Premier Division outfit in the opening period.
Proceedings started evenly with the hosts matching their professional opponents for the opening ten minutes before Sligo slowly began to find some cohesion and string a few passes together in an experimental midfield diamond shape.
Ballina native Cawley, operating on the right side of the diamond, was becoming more involved, dropping deeper to get his foot on the ball and switching the play with aplomb. This allowed Dunleavy and Banks to push forward, leaving Glebe on the back foot.
It took twelve minutes for the possession to tell and following a free kick from Cawley that was cleared, Lewis Banks sent the ball back in to find an unmarked Cawley at the back post.
The former St Patrick’s Athletic midfielder glided around Glebe’s Jason Rankin before rifling a shot into the top right-hand corner past Alan O’Connor.
The pace of Twardek and Parkes was causing Glebe’s defensive pairing of Josh Dunbar and Keith Murray all sorts of problems in behind. But it was Regan Donelon who extended their lead on 37 minutes.
The 23-year-old picked the ball up thirty-five yards from goal and advanced into space before unleashing a thunderous low drive past O’Connor into the bottom corner giving the north west side a two-goal lead at the interval despite never getting out of second gear.
Glebe North started the second half brightly having been clearly buoyed with encouragement from Gary McCormack during the break. Early pressure saw them win a corner with Reece Weldon having a low effort saved by Ed McGinty.
This proved to be a false dawn however as from the resulting corner, Sligo broke down the left with Romeo Parkes finding Banks, who saw his shot well saved by the keeper but captain Cawley was there to follow up and make it 3-0.
The Bit O’Red were cutting through the Dubliners like a knife through butter by this point and just four minutes later they were four ahead.
Donelon sent a corner to the back post where Banks met it and diverted it back across the goal to find an open Dante Leverock who nodded it calmly past O’Connor and put the nail firmly in the coffin of the plucky north Dubliners.
A period of respite for Glebe lasted all of ten minutes. Canadian Kris Twardek finding himself on the end of a Romeo Parkes through ball as Glebe pushed forward chasing an elusive goal.
The winger rounded a despairing dive from O’Connor to put Sligo five ahead and leave the away fans singing loudly.
Manager Liam Buckley will be happy with the response from his players to a lacklustre first half display.
Cawley, who was then controlling the tempo grabbed his hat-trick after 66 minutes with a delicate dinked finish following some lovely build up play involving Daryl Fordyce and substitute Murray.
The 400 strong crowd at Market Green were willing Glebe forward as the last ten minutes approached and to their credit, they found the energy to oblige.
A neat bit of play in the middle third saw skipper Noel Barrett sting the hands of McGinty while shortly after the lively Reece Weldon sent a long-range effort over the bar.
Ultimately the Balbriggan outfits commitment to pushing forward left too much space for Sligo in attack and two late goals from Twardek including a penalty following a foul from Dunbar sealed his hat-trick, condemning the Leinster Senior League side to an eight-goal defeat and putting the Bit O’Red into Monday’s second round draw.
Glebe North: Alan O'Connor; Aidan Bissett, Josh Dunbar, Jason Rankin; Noel Barrett, Paul Haran (Mark Murray, 58), Sean Lynch (Ian Devine, 58), Keith Murray, Chris Pollis; Darren Lynch, Reece Weldon.
Subs not used: Andy Haran, Steven Larkin, Paul McCarville, Michal Skrzypczak, Bill Sosso.
Booked: Paul Haran (26).
Sligo Rovers: Edward McGinty; Lewis Banks, Regan Donelon (Ronan Murray, 66), John Dunleavy (Danny Kane, 64), Dante Leverock, John Mahon; David Cawley, Daryl Fordyce, Kyle McFadden; Romeo Parkes (Brian Morley, 75), Kris Twardek.
Subs not used: Luke McNicholas, John Russell, Sam Warde.
Booked: Daryl Fordyce (67), David Cawley (68).
Referee: David Dunne.
Attendance: 400 (Estimate).
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: David Cawley (Sligo Rovers).