Sligo see off Shamrock Rovers to take top spot

Romeo Parkes struck the killer blow as Stephen Bradley’s side beaten again

Sligo’s Romeo Parkes celebrates scoring a goal during their Aitricity League clash with Shamrock Rovers. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Sligo’s Romeo Parkes celebrates scoring a goal during their Aitricity League clash with Shamrock Rovers. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

 

Shamrock Rovers 0 Sligo Rovers 1

A Romeo Parkes match winner has turned the Airtricity League into a genuine tight title race as Shamrock Rovers slump from a 33-game unbeaten streak to back-to-back losses in the space of just three days.

Sligo Rovers’ fully deserved victory knocks the defending champions off their perch.

Rare does a Republic of Ireland squad announced in the afternoon have any relevance to a top of the table clash that evening but the immediate downside to Danny Mandroiu’s call up for June internationals against Andorra and Hungary is a full-throated Tallaght stadium was unable to recognise the achievement.

Also, the Dubliner could not show precisely why Stephen Kenny has decided he is a potential answer to the lack of a natural “number 10” in the current Ireland team. A raft of injuries forced Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley to position the 22-year-old as more of a holding midfielder on Monday and while he showed well throughout, it’s not where he needs to be playing to earn international honours.

Never mind influence this contest.

“The problem with Dan was that when I had him with the under-21 team,” said Kenny earlier in the day, “he could play a pass through the eye of the needle but his pass selection wasn’t always excellent. If he gave one [BALL]away, he’d try a more difficult pass, he’d go chasing the game. He might give four away because he’s trying to retrieve the first one that didn’t work.”

Kenny quickly added that Mandroiu’s underage attitude, which perhaps stymied progress at Brighton & Hove Albion, was no longer a facet of his game.

But with Rovers coming off a 1-0 defeat in Dundalk last Friday, needs must. Not that Mandroiu was flawless in a game notable for its sloppiness all across the pitch, with a poor pass gifting Sligo captain Greg Bolger a sight on goal from the edge of the box after 28 minutes. Keeping with the theme of the first half, Bolger missed the target.

The visitors really should have led 1-0 at half-time but Parkes failed to react to a mix up in the Shamrock Rovers defence by Lee Grace and Roberto Lopes.

The inaccuracy of passing did not take from the entertainment value with Rory Gaffney and Sligo centre back John Mahon bumping chests on a few occasions while Liam Scales saw yellow for a scything tackle on Walter Figueira.

Shamrock Rovers began the second half with real intent only to be caught on the break as Jordan Gibson’s rasping strike hit the back stanchion of Alan Mannus’s goal.

When Parkes was offered a proper chance on 55 minutes, the Jamaican calmly finished to the right corner. Replays indicated that the big striker was offside when Gibson played the ball, but the goal had been coming.

Suddenly, the champions need the mid-season break more than any contender.

Shamrock Rovers: Mannus; O’Brien (Murphy 8, Williams 77), Lopes, Grace; O’Neill (McCann 69), Gannon, Scales, Burke, Mandroiu; Gaffney, Greene.

Sligo Rovers: McGinty; McCourt, Mannion, Buckley, Banks; Morahan, Bolger, Byrne (Kenny, 67); Parkes (De Vries 86), Gibson, Figueira.

Referee: Neil Doyle (Dublin).

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