Report: Ryan McMullen

A first-half wonder strike and a superb second-half earned Rovers all 3 points as they came out on top against Sligo.

On the 37th anniversary of Rovers’ final game in Glenmalure Park, the Hoops came up against Sligo Rovers, coincidentally, the same opponents they faced that day in Miltown, all those years ago.

Rovers lined out with a team that saw just one change from the starting eleven from last week’s tie against St Patrick’s Athletic – with Gary O’Neill returning to the side, taking the place of Sean Hoare who was absent from the matchday squad.

Due to a coordinated protest that took place across the league involving match officials, there was a five-minute delay to the scheduled kick-off time, with the action getting underway in Tallaght at the later time of 8.05 pm.

Darragh Burns had a sight of goal in the opening stages, with the in-form winger forcing a decent save from Sligo goalkeeper Ed McGinty in the bottom right-hand corner of the goal.

After 17 minutes, Graham Burke had his first opportunity from a free-kick, taken from just outside the box. The 30-year-old, who was making his 200th appearance for the club on the night, took a shot which took a deflection off the visitors wall, and over the crossbar for a corner.

Markus Poom was the next to try his luck, and he wasn’t far off. After receiving the ball from Burns, he cleverly found an opening for himself on the edge of the box, hitting low and hard towards the goal but McGinty dived low to deny the Estonian

Burke came close once again with a long-range attempt, a super save from the reaching McGinty denied the well-hit attempt, and kept the scores level too.

Shortly after, the Hoops would find a breakthrough. Aaron Greene played the ball into Burke at the edge of the area, he then took a touch before firing a superb strike into the top-right corner to give Rovers the lead.

Overall it was a fairly one-sided first-half, with Rovers being in control for the majority of the play as Stephen Bradley’s side went in with a deserved advantage at the break.

They were quick to double the lead following the restart as well. At the edge of the box on the right-hand side, Darragh Nugent played a perfect ball into the path of Greene as he drove towards goal, the striker had a pop at the target and was able to convert past McGinty, with his shot taking a deflection off Sligo captain Niall Morahan on its way in.

Just past the hour mark, Rovers found their third, again through Greene. This time, Poom played the ball through from the left, with the number 9 making no mistake, slotting home past McGinty and into the left of the net.

With an eye for goal, Burns looked to add a fourth but he couldn’t find a way past McGinty who made a superb stop mid-air.

Down the other end, Sligo had a chance of their own. Kailin Barlow sent a free-kick into the box and the ball fell out to Owen Elding who tried to find the back of the net from a dangerous position, however, Pohls came to the rescue for Rovers – keeping out the attempt of a consolation goal from the visitors in the dying stages.

The Hoop’s domination continued throughout, and In the last minute of normal time, substitute Richie Towell was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet. The 32-year-old hammered a volley, from a long way out, just over the frame of goal.

The Hoops supporters that were among the 6,059 attendance in Tallaght headed home happy, after a top-notch display from their team.

The Champions are back in action next Friday, April 19th, as they kick off a double-header of fixtures against Derry City and Shelbourne, with a trip up North to take on the Candystripes. Kick-off at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium is set for 7.45 pm.

Shamrock Rovers: Pohls, Burns, Lopes ©, Cleary, Honohan (Barrett 79’), Poom, Watts (Noonan 70’), O’Neill (Clarke 67’), Nugent (Kenny 67’), Burke (Towell 67’), Greene.

Shamrock Rovers unused substitutes: Steacy, Leitis, J O’Sullivan, C O’Sullivan.

Sligo Rovers: McGinty, Wilson, Wiggett, Denham, Hutchinson, Morahan ©, Fitzgerald (Smit 76’), Chapman (Barlow 76’), Malley, Hartmann (Elding 76’), Mata (Waweru 76’).

Sligo Rovers unused substitutes: Brush, Radosavljevic, McDonagh, Reynolds, Patton.

Referee: Kevin O’Sullivan