Slick Sligo Rovers book their final place in emphatic fashion
Goals from Ventre, Keane and Elding seal a place in the decider against Drogheda
Anthony Elding of Sligo celebrates scoring his side’s third goal of the game. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
SLIGO ROVERS 3 SHAMROCK ROVERS 0: Sligo Rovers booked their place in the Ford FAI Cup final with a sizzling performance in a pulsating semi-final before 3,933 spectators at a sun -drenched Showgrounds yesterday.
Shamrock Rovers travelled to the north west with high hopes of reaching next month’s decider against Drogheda at the Aviva Stadium but Ian Baraclough’s side had other ideas as they put their illustrious opponents under pressure from the kick off.
The Hoops found themselves a goal down at half-time but they were still well in the game with strong prospects of at least forcing a draw before their chances perished in the 74th minute.
Trevor Croly’s side were a man down and when Alan Keane put the resultant penalty away the Dublin Rovers were left with a proverbial mountain to climb.
Sligo were now rampant and Shamrock Rovers’ miserable afternoon was complete when substitute Anthony Elding added Sligo’s third goal in the 88th minute having come on the field just five minutes earlier.
The first half was played at a frantic pace with the Hoops well on top in the opening minutes. Ronan Finn caused a couple of anxious moments in the Sligo Rovers rearguard after three minutes but the home side were able to clear.
Shamrock Rovers skipper Shane Robinson had a shot cleared after 15 minutes and there was further anxiety for the home side when Billy Dennehy and former Sligo player Jason McGuinness got into the action.
Raffaele Cretaro had a half chance in a rare break for the home side a minute later but the diligent Hoops defence again stood firm.
Sligo went ahead in the 24th minute when a quick break out of defence set up Aaron Greene who provided skipper Danny Ventre with the opportunity, at the second attempt, to fire past former Sligo goalkeeper Richard Brush in a packed goalmouth.
Sligo could have doubled their advantage after 39 minutes but Jeff Henderson just failed to get his head to the ball from a Djilali corner.
Dennehy went close to drawing the Hoops level with a headed effort a minute before the interval. Then Danny North had a chance to put Sligo two up after 53 minutes but his 30-yard effort from Djilali’s clever ball failed to trouble the goalkeeper.
Shamrock Rovers stepped up the pace considerably in the second half and Dennehy missed a great chance to square the match on 63 minutes but his close range header from a long ball by Ronan Finn whistled inches wide of Gary Rogers’ goal.
Shamrock Rovers substitutes Karl Sheppard and Sean O’Connor added more bite to the visitors’ play in the closing minutes but they couldn’t find an opening even for a consolation goal. Instead Sligo celebrated returning to the capital for their third final in the last four years.
So, with their title bid long over, Shamrock Rovers’ hopes of adding to their impressive haul of cup silverware this season were firmly dashed.
A minute’s applause was observed before the start of the match for the late Andy Tiernan who was groundsman at the Showgrounds for more than 40 years.
SLIGO ROVERS: Rogers, Keane, McMillan, Henderson (Cawley 65), Davoren, Ndo, Ventre, Cretaro (Elding, 84), Djilali, Greene, North (Conneely, 67).
SHAMROCK ROVERS: Brush, McCormack, Oman, McGuinness, Powell, Finn (Sheppard, 81), Ryan, Robinson, Dennehy (O’Connor, 70), McCabe (Quigley, 58), Stewart.
Referee: Anan Kelly (Cork).