Sligo Rovers look at a final chance for success while Shamrock Rovers have a treble in mind
Single goal could decide a tight encounter
Sligo Rovers’s Danny North is back in action after long-term injury. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
His former team-mates over at Richmond Park might well remind him how the league table looks the next time they see him, but this is the cup but Danny North reckons tomorrow’s semi-final at the Showgrounds involves “the two biggest clubs in the country”.
Neither, of course, has lived up to that billing in the title race. While Sligo are still technically in the hunt to retain their title, tomorrow’s visitors have something tangible to show for their efforts this season in the form of two cups with a win here potentially paving the way to a treble.
Quite where the hosts have fallen short is up for debate although manager Ian Baraclough says they have talked about it a good deal this week. His team has been remarkably tight at the back, as is evidenced by how it is 678 minutes since they conceded at home, but they have been short of goals at key times, perhaps in part because of North’s absence due to a long term injury from which he has only recently recovered.
Shift in tactics
North believes that the problem has been down to that old chestnut of teams seeking to shut up shop against the champions rather than any shift in tactics on Baraclough’s part. “We haven’t been told to go out and play and different,” he insists before admitting: “there have been a lot of times this year when we got draws that should have been wins and you look at them and wonder.
Both of their league meetings against Trevor Croly’s side have ended in stalemates while the Dubliners narrowly edged their meeting in League Cup. The striker prefers to cast his mind a little further back: “I remember one game where we won 3-0 at the Showgrounds . . . the atmosphere at that game was class and hopefully we can copy that.
“Still, it would be a massive achievement to get to the final,” he continues. “I think we have the tougher draw out of the teams, getting Shamrock Rovers but we are at home and we know if we play well, we will get the win.”
They shouldn’t want for atmosphere anyway with a big crowd expected and away fans being warned not to travel unless they have tickets. Croly is without the suspended Pat Sullivan for the game but Baraclough’s problems slightly outweigh his with Gavin Peers suspended, Ross Gaynor still injured and David McMillan cup-tied.
North, as it happens, was dropped, or perhaps rested, for the nil all draw against Cork earlier in the week but seems likely to return for a game in which a single goal might well decide things.