Aviva friendly ends in 4-0 win for Liverpool
Lack of stars on show does little to quell enthusiasm as Shamrock Rovers play their part
The former announced his presence in the opening seconds with a run down the left that might well have led to an opening goal but thankfully for the locals that took seven minutes longer to arrive. In the end, Iago Aspas, Borini, Martin Kelly and Jack Dunn got the Liverpool goals with the last three all coming after the break.
Brendan Rodgers’s men could well have had another couple but Barry Murphy and Craig Hyland did well in the Rovers goal and 18-year-old Ibe hasn’t yet, it seems, added finishing to his armoury. Ryan Brennan, meanwhile, went closest for the Dubliners with a header that came off the inside of the post, bounced back across the goal-line and away.
“It was a great finish to what has been a wonderful season for us,” said the Liverpool boss afterwards. “For the fans it was a chance to see some of our top players and our younger players too.”
Many of those who came would have started supporting the club in the eighties when there was a sizeable Irish presence in the team. Asked whether players from here can ever have that sort of impact over there again, Rodgers sounded hopeful rather than confident.
“I think they can,” said the northerner who himself left Ballymena United for Reading in 1990, “but it’s obviously a lot more difficult.
“The Premier League is the most competitive league in the world and over 63 per cent are foreign players. It’s about opportunity. It’s getting that chance and if they’re professional enough and devoted to the life . . . I think what you get with a lot of Irish boys is that they come over, they struggle, they miss home and then they come back early.
“It’s about that education before they come over. A lot of them start the apprenticeship at 16 but even then it’s too late. A lot of the boys across the water are beginning at the age of eight and by the time they get to 16 they’ve been trained technically, tactically, physically and mentally and then they’re ready to step into full time football. The talent hasn’t disappeared.”
LIVERPOOL: Jones; McLaughlin (Randall, 63 mins), Paez (Williams, 79 mins), Kelly, Smith; Lucas (Teixeira, half-time), Allen (Brannagan, half-time); Aspas (Pieterson, 79 mins), Coady, Ibe; Borini (Dunn, 79 mins).
SHAMROCK ROVERS: Murphy (Hyland, 64 mins); Madden, Cornwall, McGuinness (O’Connor, 75 mins), Byrne (Osam, 75 mins); Robinson (Finn, 75 mins); Waters (O’Connor, half-time, Brennan (Bayly, h-t), McPhail (h-t), McCabe (Kelly, 64 mins); Kilduff (Zayed, 64).
Referee: P Sutton (Clare).