Shamrock Rovers out for cup final revenge

Dubliners take on Drogheda for Setanta Cup having been well beaten in League Cup decider

Conor Powell is likely to be the only absentee from either side for this afternoon's Setanta Sports Cup in Tallaght (kick-off 3pm), where Shamrock Rovers will be attempting to achieve some measure of atonement for last season's slightly humiliating defeat by Drogheda United in the EA Sports Cup while showing that they have enough about them to revive their league campaign over the weeks ahead.

Powell, as it happens, missed the last 18 minutes of the game last September after being sent off with his team already 3-1 down and he seems likely to sit the entirety of this one out as he is still struggling with the ankle injury that has been troubling him in recent weeks.

A good deal has changed at Rovers since that last cup encounter between the two sides but the club continues to struggle to assert itself in the league under new manager Trevor Croly, who could do with taking his first piece of silverware today. He first and foremost needs a vastly better display than the one the Dubliners produced in the autumn.

"No, we didn't really show up at all," said Rovers skipper Pat Sullivan, who missed out last time because of suspension. "I was watching the game, I wasn't playing and it wasn't good enough; I think the lads knew that at the time.


“But there’s been a change in personnel and in management since then and it’s a different game. Okay, on paper it might look sort of similar but it’s a different game in a different tournament; it’s early in the season and it’s a game that we know that if we can get down and win it then we can lay down a marker for the rest of the season.”

Rovers' return from their first round of league games this year is significantly down on 2012 which was, of course, considered to fall well short of what had been expected, but they come into this match off the back of a couple of improved performances.

Enough chances
Croly's team showed a good deal of character to battle their way to a point late on against Sligo Rovers last Friday and then created enough chances against Dundalk to win the game far more comfortably than the 1-0 scoreline suggested even if their visitors might have grabbed something themselves in the dying minutes.

Beating Drogheda this afternoon, however, will require them to maintain the same sort of performance levels and, most likely, make a little bit more of their chances.

“Yeah, they’re a good team,” said Sullivan. “Obviously last year they did better than a lot of people thought they would and kept it going till the end of the season.

“They kept the nucleus of the squad and added some good players, they work hard and they know their game plan; they’re very tough to play against, very tough to break down. So they’ll go into the game as favourites,” he ventured, explaining that: “They obviously had a better season than us last season and they’ve beaten the champions of the league to get here.”

It’s not quite what you’d expect from a Rovers captain on the eve of a cup final even if there is an element of mind games about it all. A glance at the league table, though, and the closeness of their league game in April suggests Sullivan had good reason to expect another tough encounter.

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Work Correspondent at The Irish Times