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Greg Bolger wins LOI Player Of The Month Award May 2021

Bit O’Red captain Greg Bolger has grabbed the League of Ireland Player Of The Month award for May 2021. Amongst Bolger, nominees included notable players such as Derry City’s Will Patching and Drogheda’s Gary Deegan. This is the second time Bolger has won the award, having been awarded the same nomination in 2016 while with Cork City. Bolger accepts this award as the first Sligo Rover’s player to achieve this title since 2013 when Anthony Elding and Danny North both were awarded.

Having only signed for us this season, Bolger has already proved a key player in our rise to top place in the table. Bringing with him experience from Cork City, St. Pats and Shamrock Rovers, he has become a squad leader on and off the field. Bolger not only impresses with his skill, footwork and determination but continuously leads his team through his direction and example. Bolger has been a key player in our starting 11 for every game since this season. His linkage play with players such as Buckley, Morahan and Gibson further upfield, has provided our side with a much more solid and adaptable midfield in comparison to last season.

His role as leader has become more evident across the League as Sligo Rovers not only rose to the top of the table, but managed to stay there, defeating 2020 champions Shamrock Rovers, who sat comfortably at the top of table since the start of the season. Bolger gained attention across the League for his performance in this game against Shamrock Rovers on 24th May. He altered between pushing back into defence when needed but also pressed high when there was an opportunity, he was all over the field and intercepted a series of balls allowing us to exchange our defensive position to a counter attack. This proved how skilful and adaptable Bolger is as a player.

Bolger is highly impressed with our club’s side and improvement since his signing

“I think there could have been two or three Sligo lads up for the award because everyone has been excellent. It’s nice that I’ve won it and I’m grateful but it could have been any of my team-mates”.


The midfielder admits

“My performances have been good and I’m happy enough but I still think there is more in me”.

We will next see Bolger in action this Saturday as Sligo Rovers take on Drogheda Utd, another team who have impressed this season. The match will be held in The Showgrounds, and will be the first time home supporters are allowed back in the ground since this season has begun, with 100 season ticket holders set to attend.

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Finn Harps 1 – 2 Sligo Rovers: Action galore in an important victory

Sligo Rovers won 2-1 over a determined Finn Harps side in Finn Park on Friday evening, cementing our place at the top of the table by 4 points, although Shams have a game in hand. Romeo Parkes scored and got sent off on either side of Tunde Owolabi and Lewis Banks’ goals, with Ed McGinty securing the win with a collection of showreel saves in the latter stages of the match.

An unchanged team from our victory at Tallaght Stadium started the match in Ballybofey, with David Cawley, Danny Kane and Darren Collins out injured. Finn Harps made only one change from our last game against them in the Showgrounds, with Owolabi coming in for Mark Russell.

The first half was a crazy affair, beginning with two goals in 60 seconds through Romeo Parkes and Tunde Owolabi to make it 1-1 after 6 minutes. Romeo’s strike came from a corner palmed away into his lap allowed him to volley home. Before the end of the half, however, the ball was in our net through Tunde Owolabi after Harps carved open our defence. There were some more hairy moments through Owolabi, who drew saves from McGinty and put a big chance wide near the half-hour mark.

The frenetic pacing of the match continued into the second half as both teams began to make things scrappier, although Rovers went ahead on the hour through Lewis Banks of all people, when aerial pinball from a corner led to him being able to volley past Mark McGinley. It was a mere 2 minutes after this when a red card was brandished by Paul McLaughlin to Romeo Parkes for… something after staying calm during an altercation with Kosovar Sadiki. Liam Buckley didn’t panic after this questionable decision and instead chose to replace our goalscorer Lewis Banks with Colm Horgan, a switch becoming ubiquitous in recent games. With their man advantage, Finn Harps began to dominate proceedings, forcing Ed McGinty into a string of exquisite saves to keep the Bit O’Red ahead. Johnny Kenny replaced Walter Figueira in the 78th minute to freshen up the attacking trident before McGinty produced his magnum opus in added time with a world-class stop up and to his left from a bullet header off the head of the substitute Sean Boyd.

What a game! Unfortunately, that’s all she wrote for this part of the season, we’ve got a break for a fortnight until our next game (Drogheda at home on the 12th of next month). If all goes well, some fans might be able to access the Showgrounds for the first time in a while (I think, I didn’t pour through the government plan yet but sure look). If you can’t, you’ll have my report to fall back on.

Teams

SLIGO ROVERS:  E McGinty, L Banks (), J Mahon, G Buckley, R McCourt, J Gibson, G Bolger, N Morahan, W Figueira (J Kenny 78), R Parkes (Red Card 62), M Byrne.

FINN HARPS:  M McGinley, D Webster (J Dunleavy 67), E Boyle, K Sadiki (M Russell 84), S McEleney, T Owolabi, K O’Sullivan (S Boyd 78), W Seymore (R Connolly 78), M Coyle, B McNamee, A Foley (T McNamee 84).

REF: Paul McLaughlin

Rovers Ratings

Ed McGinty: 8 – Produced a number of sublime stops from Owolabi et al. That last minute stop…. The only negative is that Everton could snap him up from this partnership.

Lewis Banks: 7 – Finished with the composure of a 20-goal-a-season striker. Taken off for Horgan a couple of minutes after.

Garry Buckley: 6 – Was decent. Got spun a couple times but recovered.

John Mahon: 6 – Was kept honest by Owolabi but played well.

Robbie McCourt: 6 – Decent on the left.

Greg Bolger: 6 – Tenacious as he always is.

Niall Morahan: 6 – Found nice pockets of space when we were in possession in the defensive third to build out from.

Walter Figueira: 6 – It was always gonna be difficult with Harps’ low block for him to work his magic.

Jordan Gibson: 6 – Found some nice pockets between the Harps midfield and defence.

Mark Byrne: 6 – Productive with his crosses from the right wing.

Romeo Parkes: 7 – Was at the right place at the right time to open the scoring. Thank goodness we won otherwise this report would be 400 words of Paul McLaughlin libel after that decision for the red card.

Colm Horgan: 6 – Efficient as ever on the right.

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Sligo Rovers 1 – 0 Shamrock Rovers: Derby victory sends us top

Sligo Rovers emerged victorious over fierce rivals Shamrock Rovers in a tightly-contested duel between the two sides at the summit of the table. The victory, obtained through Romeo Parkes’ second-half strike, sends us top of the league at the Tallaght side’s expense.

A good few tactical changes and some fresh faces in the starting line-up for this clash against the champions with Lewis Banks moving to a more familiar right-back position with Colm Horgan making the bench. Greg Bolger and Mark Byrne also returned to the starting XI in Horgan and Johnny Kenny’s place respectively.

The first half didn’t cause too much concern for either side in terms of chances conceded but it there were flashes of panic at each goalmouth throughout the half, however before this Joey O’Brien was unfortunately required to leave the pitch after sustaining a calf strain early on. On came Max Murphy in his place, and the show went on, with Sean Gannon coming close with a deflected effort from about 20 yards. The most hair-raising moment of the half came right at its conclusion, with Roberto Lopes nearly turning Dublin 23 against him with a certainly interesting backpass to Alan Mannus which Romeo Parkes almost intercepted.

The second period really brought the action as Rovers (us, of course) took control of the match despite Shams’ possession by hitting fast and powerfully on the break. This is how we ended up taking the lead, with Jordan Gibson pouncing on a loose ball to release Romeo Parkes very well who finished with conviction at Mannus’ near post. This was how the game was to continue until Johnny Kenny came on for Mark Byrne, with the former injecting pace in the press against the Hoops’ defence. Ryan De Vries came on with 4 minutes of normal time left to offer another fresh body to the the ball to the corner, and it was near the corner of Shams’ half where Neil Doyle blew his whistle, sending the real Rovers top.

Great to be back on top. Sorry it’s so late everyone, I was too busy celebrating (let’s just say that). Next up is Finn Harps this Friday.

Teams

SLIGO ROVERS:  E McGinty, L Banks, J Mahon, G Buckley, R McCourt, J Gibson, G Bolger, N Morahan, W Figueira, M Byrne (J Kenny 69), R Parkes (R De Vries 86).

SHAMROCK ROVERS:  A Mannus, S Gannon, J O’Brien (M Murphy 8 (D Williams 78)), L Grace, R Lopes, L Scales, D Mandriou, G O’Neill (C McCann 70), G Burke, R Gaffney, A Greene.

REF: Neil Doyle

Rovers Ratings

Ed McGinty: 7 – Organised the back so well.

Lewis Banks: 7 – Kept the onrushing Scales et al. quiet.

Garry Buckley: 8 – This don was made for central defence, there’s no way you can tell me he played as a 10 two seasons ago.

John Mahon: 7 – Did well up until the equalizer.

Robbie McCourt: 7 – Added attacking quality to his defensive efforts.

Greg Bolger: 6 – Picked up a yellow against his old side for persistent fouling but aside from that he was wicked.

Niall Morahan: 6 – Tenacious in the centre.

Walter Figueira: 6 – Showed some nice trickery but he was unfortunate against Gannon.

Jordan Gibson: 7 – That ball for Romeo’s goal ohh la la…

Romeo Parkes: 7 – Not a classic Romeo-oh-oh performance by any means.

Mark Byrne: 6 – Decent performance from the young lad. Taken off for Kenny.

Johnny Kenny: 6 – Was good and energetic against the tired Shams defence.

Ryan De Vries: N/A: Wasn’t on long enough.

AMR

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Sligo Rovers 2 – 0 Longford: Exquisite performance yields victory for returning Rovers

Sligo Rovers returned to the Showgrounds with a commanding 2-0 win over Longford Town after our scheduled fixture with Waterford was forfeited. The result leaves us within striking distance of our next opponents, Shamrock Rovers at the top of the table.
Liam Buckley changed things up somewhat with Lewis Banks in the centre of midfield to cover for Greg Bolger and David Cawley, who both missed the match due to suspensions and injuries. Ryan De Vries also made a start replacing Romeo Parkes, who dropped to the bench.
The first half started with each side having chances to score, however it was Rovers and Walter Figueira who struck to break the deadlock with an arrowed effort from 30 yards which left Kelly hopeless. Longford weren’t out of the game by any means though and had chances to score before and after Figueira’s effort through Dylan Grimes and Aaron Dobbs.


Longford were forced into a change early on in the second half after an injury to Shane Elworthy ended his evening, with Karl Chambers coming on in his place. Not long after that, a venomous Robbie McCourt corner caused a scuffle in the box which led to a handball, with Ben Connolly quick to point to the spot. Gibson took the penalty – Gibson celebrated. After this the game started to stagnate just a touch as Rovers were happy to make systemic and personnel changes to preserve their lead, with Regan Donelon and Shane Blaney reinforcing the backline in lieu of Johnny Kenny and Colm Horgan, with Lewis Banks reverting to his more natural right back position. These switches allowed Rovers to sit deep and counter with ease as Longford searched in vain to muster a comeback.
Nice to be back, and also good to hear Joey N’Do back on commentary. His vocalisations really enhanced the viewing experience. Next up, as I said earlier, is Shams, and if we win, we go top. No pressure then, lads!
Teams

SLIGO ROVERS: E McGinty, C Horgan (S Blaney 77), J Mahon, G Buckley, R McCourt, J Gibson, L Banks, N Morahan, W Figueira, R De Vries (R Parkes 63), J Kenny (R Donelon 80).

LONGFORD: M Kelly, P Kirk, J Manley, A O’Driscoll, S Elworthy (K Chambers 58), A Dervin, A Robinson (A Bolger 64), D Grimes, R Manley (S Verdon 73), A Dobbs, C Thompson (C Davis 73).
REF: Ben Connolly
Rovers Ratings

Ed McGinty: 6 – Didn’t have much to do but he kept a clean sheet (!!!) and distributed well.
Colm Horgan: 6 – Played well but wasn’t busy. Replaced for Blaney with not long to go.
Garry Buckley: 7 – “The commander-in-chief” – Joey N’Do, 2021. Need I say more?
John Mahon: 7 – Inpenetrable at the back out there.
Robbie McCourt: 6 – Set-pieces were on point today.
Lewis Banks: 6 – Looked like a natural centre-midfielder, which was no mean feat.
Niall Morahan: 6 – A complete performance but nothing unbelievable.
Jordan Gibson: 7 – Threatened and got his reward with the penalty.
Johnny Kenny: 6 – The only time he gets the ball into him it’s nearly in orbit. It must be really frustrating. Taken off for Donelon late on.
Ryan De Vries: 6 – Played alright on the right but looked better centrally.
Romeo Parkes: 6 – Nearly sent Joey into raptures in added time but he put his shot over.
Shane Blaney: 6 – Had a brilliant 50/50 close to the end and as we all know, 50/50’s win games, not the outdated concept of goals.
Regan Donelon: N/A – A decent cameo. Found himself in the opposition box at one stage but it wasn’t to be.

After Match Reception

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Gibson scorcher gives vital victory

Sligo Rovers obtained a crucial win over Dundalk in Oriel Park on Friday evening after Garry Buckley’s red card threatened to undo Jordan Gibson’s stellar work in scoring a drive of sheer quality from close to 30 yards out in the first half. The result leaves us 4 points off Shamrock Rovers on top spot, however they have a game in hand.
Liam Buckley made 2 changes to the side which drew in heartbreaking fashion to St Pats last time out, with Johnny Kenny coming onto the right side to replace Mark Byrne, and Lewis Banks in for Colm Horgan in a straight swap at right back. Dundalk lined up with 2 changes, with our former man Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe up top for the Lilywhites.
The first half was a good outing for the Bit O’Red, with our boys being able to peg back Dundalk and starve them of the ball. This was almost rewarded in some style after 10 minutes by Walter Figueira after some tepid Dundalk defending led to him creating space and unleashing a venomous effort from the edge of the box which smacked against the crossbar (“The crossbar’s still ringing” is a quote and all that, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was still sound coming out of it). Rovers kept at Dundalk though, and hit the front after 30 minutes through Jordan Gibson’s piledriver into the bottom corner after Romeo Parkes’ hold-up play allowed the Englishman to nutmeg Andy Boyle and drive towards goal.
The second started in the same vein for Rovers, with Dundalk timid and direct on the ball until Garry Buckley’s second yellow card for his second high foot of the match. Liam Buckley then replaced Romeo Parkes for Shane Blaney in an attempt to plug the hole in the defence vacated by Buckley’s (Garry’s not Liam’s) suspension. Despite their man advantage, Dundalk remained unable to string a move together until the closing stages of the match, by which time the Bit O’Red were sitting deep and attempting to counter-attack. These moves were both met by the head of Wilfried Zahibo who called Ed McGinty into action with one routine and one excellent save.
Woop woop, sorry for the delay in getting the report up folks, prior commitments and all that. The boys finally get a full week’s rest (or training depending on Liam’s mood) before our next match against Waterford next Saturday. We’ll have a report and post-match reaction on borst.ie.
Teams

SLIGO ROVERS: E McGinty, L Banks, J Mahon, G Buckley (Red Card 53), R McCourt, N Morahan, G Bolger, J Kenny (C Horgan 74), J Gibson, R Parkes (S Blaney 55), W Figueira.

DUNDALK: P Cherrie, D Cleary, A Boyle, V Adedokun, R Jurkovskis, C Shields (P McEleney 67), W Zahibo, H Jeong-woo (D Kelly 55), J Ogedi-Uzokwe (OE Midtskogen 81), M Duffy.

REF: Rob Hennessy
Rovers Ratings

Ed McGinty: 7 – Played really well, was authoritative and commanding even without his two late saves.
Lewis Banks: 6 – Cool, calm and collected.
Garry Buckley: 5 – Was alright until his fairly idiotic red. We might suffer with him suspended against Waterford.
John Mahon: 6 – Imperative at the back today.
Robbie McCourt: 6 – Decent up and down the left side.
Greg Bolger: 6 – Led well in the middle.
Niall Morahan: 6 – Did the dirty work well.
Walter Figueira: 6 – Played good and solid. If he scored that chance in the first half I would still be celebrating, even now.
Jordan Gibson: 8 – Is he too good?
Romeo Parkes: 6 – Showed brilliant control to assist Gibson’s goal. Sacrificed for Blaney after the red card.
Johnny Kenny: 6 – Good and energetic as usual.
Shane Blaney: 6 – Steadied the ship well after Buckley’s red.
Colm Horgan: N/A – Like the last game but the other way around where he played as a sort of wide midfielder on the right instead of a winger at the end of the game.

After Match Reception

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Kenny- ‘Player Of The Month’ nominee. Who else in the squad deserves similar recognition?

SSE Airtrcity League Player Of The Month nominees were listed on Wednesday. The possible candidates include our very own Johnny Kenny, who has seriously impressed so far this season. Kenny has already scored 2 goals in his 9 appearances. We will all remember his very close attempt on Monday as we took on St Pats. Having only came off the bench a couple of minutes, his shot went wide of the netting by only inches. Although it was a real pity that he missed, he arguably put in more work in those few minutes off the bench than some did the entire game. I think a lot of us would agree that he deserved this recognition. Especially considering that this is his first professional season for the club and is certainly one of the hardest working players on the field. But who else deserved to be in the mix? Two in particular stand out to me….

Impressive signee

Jordan Gibson stands out as a first possible suggestion. Having signed from St Pats this season, he has seriously impressed. Not only with his goal-scoring success but with his overall play. Gibson has scored 3 goals for us so far; one being recognised as a potential goal of the season against Waterford, as he struck the ball into the top corner of the net. Gibson is an essential component of the starting 11 for every game and shows impressive link-up play up-front with Figueira, Parkes and Kenny. Gibson displays some serious footwork too and works extremely well under pressure when surrounded and cornered. He often is the go-to man for corners and free-kicks and rightly so. He has a brilliant ability to curl the ball at height providing good opportunity to catch defenders off – guard. This also creates potential for headers in the box.

His passing is tactically impressive also, he rarely lets the ball loose in the mid-field. He is a very fast player and is essential in keeping the tempo speed-driven. Gibson proves this by often being the key link between midfield passes and the assist that further leads to the goal. He steps up at pivotal moments in the games. Personally, I think he is one of the best signees this season and has seriously impacted the squad’s depth. He is a very flexible and adaptable player who isn’t restricted to going on the attack alone. His linkage and dribbling is as impressive as many mid-fielder’s.

Gibson (BIT O RED PHOTOGRAPHY)

Vital defender

John Mahon, the vital cog in the defensive line. This suggestion might not be as popular as Gibson. Defenders are typically under-rated and don’t get much attention excluding the rare moments where they essentially save their keeper. Only one defender is a nominee this month and that’s Shamrock Rover’s Liam Scales. Mahon is not short of recognition- winning Player of the Year 2018 while also remaining first choice defender since 2019. He also was called up for international time. We certainly have a solid defensive line going into this season between Mahon, Mc Court and Horgan. Mahon is the only of the three to have experience with the club, having come through our own academy system. You can tell he brings that security and confidence to the squad with this experience and familiarity to the club and ground.

While Mc Court and Horgan tend to press forward and involve themselves further into the mid-field, Mahon tends to stay closer to Mc Ginty and proves essential in this way. Just thinking back on the St Pats game for example, Forrester was left unmarked to run on the counter attack a couple of times. If it wasn’t for Mahon who remained pressed back, there could have been a couple more chances for the Saints.

Mahon is frequently cornered near the posts but manages to avoid giving away corners and close throw-ins and instead manages to boot the ball up-field. I think we can all admit that the power of a corner cannot be underestimated after Monday’s game. A lot of other defenders attempt to instead dribble past the attacker to escape, hoping to go on the counter attack. Mahon avoids this much riskier tactic which has led to some easily-avoidable goals in the past. Mahon is what a lot of commentators consider an ‘old fashioned defender’ who focuses mostly on clearances and tends to avoid playing out from the back. His sheer physicality and strength, despite his horrific injury, definitely benefits the defensive line.

Mahon blocks a St Pats attack (BIT O RED PHOTOGRAPHY)

Squad Leader

These two players have caught my eye as vital to the squad and to the success we have had so far. Both Gibson and Mahon rarely have an ‘off day’ compared to other players such as Parkes who has proven a hit-and- miss in recent games. Another player to possibly throw into the mix is Greg Bolger who has become a leader and commander within the squad. He physically orders and pushes the team on but also leads by example. This ‘leader’ role is something the club lacked last season and you can see the positive eff ect it has so far. The squad is much more driven and press much higher. Clever choices are more frequently made on time-management and the avoidance of fouls in particular circumstances. Bolger’s experience alone has proven only a benefit to the squad.

Bolger takes on his leadership role

The 6 nominees for the award are Graham Burke, Liam Scales, Ronan Coughlan, Chris Forrester, Johnny Kenny and Adam Foley. The results will be announced in coming days. It would seem likely Burke will scoop this one up after scoring successive goals, particularly his famed strike from the half-way line against Derry. We would love to see Kenny get this recognition, but he surely will be in the mix as a possibility for this and many more awards down the line, and has lots of time yet!

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Late equaliser cancels out Gibson penalty

Sligo Rovers drew 1-1 for the second time in a row to Drogheda United on Monday evening with a dramatic last-gasp header from Ian Bermingham ruling Jordan Gibson’s efforts in winning and converting a penalty early on in the second half somewhat worthless.

Liam Buckley lined up with an XI which harkened back to the earlier stages of the season, albeit with Mark Byrne making his first start of the season in place of Johnny Kenny. St Pats lined up with a familiar face for us, our top scorer last season, Ronan Coughlan started up top for the Saints.

Greg Bolger set the tone very early on with a crunching tackle in the first knockings, and this precedent was followed all through the match with both teams coming close in the first half, firstly through Bermingham whose diving header was well saved by Ed McGinty. Pats had another huge chance to score when Ronan Coughlan was put through by Chris Forrester’s through pass but Ed McGinty was alert to the chance and saved well. Rovers had a golden chance to score in the 19th minute after Greg Bolger’s intelligent pass fell to Romeo Parkes, who failed to trap the ball.

The Bit O’Red started the second half very well indeed, and were rewarded for their efforts in the 49th when Jordan Gibson became the devil to the Saints defence, decimating two defenders before getting cleared by Paddy Barrett. Having won the penalty, it was appropriate that he took it, and he was spot on to convert from twelve yards. Following this however, St Pats began to control the match, throwing more personnel forward and gaining chances on McGinty’s goal, but this inevitably left them exposed to counter-attacks. Johnny Kenny could’ve sealed St Pats’ fate with 7 minutes to go but his effort trickled just wide of the post. The Saints’ siege continued after this, with Shane Blaney giving a corner away from a cross in the 95th minute of 4 added minutes. In came the delivery, and it was the back of the net the ball nestled into to the agony of the Bit O’Red after their stoic defence became undone in a moment.

Now that that’s done and dusted, our next game will be against Dundalk, this time away from home on Friday the 7th. Check our socials for podcast updates, our YouTube for post-match livestreams and borst.ie for further report.

Teams

SLIGO ROVERS:  E McGinty, C Horgan, J Mahon, G Buckley, R McCourt, N Morahan (S Blaney 93), G Bolger, M Byrne (L Banks 79), J Gibson, R Parkes (J Kenny 79), W Figueira (D Cawley 93).

ST PATS: V Jaroš, I Bermingham, L Desmond, S Bone (D Burns 55), P Barrett (B McCormack 81), J Mountney, C Forrester, J Lennon (A Lewis 68), B King, M Smith, R Coughlan.

REF: Neil Doyle

Rovers Ratings

Ed McGinty: 6 – Played alright but he seemed to be scuffing his kicks.

Colm Horgan: 6 – Was decent on the right.

Garry Buckley: 6 – Solid in defence.

John Mahon: 6 – Did well to deny his former team-mate Coughlan in the first half.

Robbie McCourt: 6 – Fairly anonymous today.

Greg Bolger: 6 – Was good and physical today.

Niall Morahan: 6 – Like Bolger, was physical and played well.

Walter Figueira: 7 – Looked electric on the ball but wasn’t always brilliant with the end product.

Jordan Gibson: 8 – Was on it all game. Won and scored the penalty.

Romeo Parkes: 5 – Should’ve offered more today.

Mark Byrne: 6 – Looked to tire in the second half.

Lewis Banks: N/A – Liked his work on the right side though I was confused whether it was him or Horgan (or both??) as the designated right-back.

Johnny Kenny: N/A – Missed that huge chance late on but offered much more in 15 minutes up top than the rest of the players

David Cawley: N/A – Brought on to secure the three points. That didn’t come to ass, but he played alright.

Shane Blaney: N/A – Conceded the corner which Bermingham equalized from but he couldn’t have done much else.

After Match Reception

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A draw in Drogheda

Photo by James Fallon

Sligo Rovers drew 1-1 to Drogheda United in Head in the Game Park on Friday night with Chris Lyons and Johnny Kenny scoring the goals. The match was an interesting affair, with a plethora of chances for either side.

Wholesale changes (by our standards so far) were made from our defeat last time out when we hosted Derry, with Shane Blaney making his first start for the club in the place of David Cawley, and Lewis Banks deposing Colm Horgan at right back for this match. Niall Morahan was also ruled out after a late fitness test, with the youthful Cillian Heaney replacing him on the bench. Drogheda lined up with 1 change from their defeat to local rivals Dundalk, with Mark Doyle replacing Hugh Douglas. Ronan Murray, a former Rovers man of course, lined up for the Claret and Blue Army too.

The first half was a captivating affair, with both teams at each-others throats from the off. However, it was Drogheda who drew first blood, with Ed McGinty at fault, coming out too far for a free-kick he couldn’t win, the resulting header falling to Chris Lyons who struck home. The Bit O’Red were unperturbed by this however, and equalised through Johnny Kenny after a nice vertical pass from Garry Buckley found Walter Figueira, whose shot was too hot for Colin McCabe to handle, which allowed Johnny Kenny to poke home from about 1 yard out (crazy far out, I know). Rovers continued to lay siege on McCabe’s goal through Romeo Parkes and John Mahon before half-time.

The second half was a more tense encounter than what had preceded it in the first period, with less chances falling Rovers’ way. Drogheda took the game by the scruff of the neck with some huge chances to score through Killian Phillips but the youngster couldn’t find the net. Rovers resorted to attempting to hit on the break, with the substitution of Romeo Parkes for Ryan De Vries an effort to facilitate this. In the end, the game ended honours even, with 1 goal apiece.

Thanks for reading. Our next match is against the high-flying St Pats on Monday evening at a quarter to 6. See you afterwards on the BORST YouTube channel for a post-match rundown and for my report on the proceedings right here on borst.ie.

Teams

SLIGO ROVERS:  E McGinty, L Banks, J Mahon, G Buckley, R McCourt, D Cawley, G Bolger, N Morahan, J Gibson, R Parkes (R De Vries 80), J Kenny.

DROGHEDA UNITED: C McCabe, J Brown, D Massey, R O’Shea, D O’Reilly, G Deegan, D Markey, R Murray (J Clarke 72), M Doyle (L Heeney 52), K Phillips, C Lyons.

REF: Robert Harvey

Rovers Ratings

Ed McGinty: 5 – Looked shaky and dare I say, unreliable in nets today.

Lewis Banks: 6 – A good performance in his first start.

Garry Buckley: 6 – Did decent at the back – nothing more to say really.

John Mahon: 6 – Solid enough, nearly scored before half-time from a corner.

Robbie McCourt: 6 – Another good display for a consistently good player.

Greg Bolger: 6 – Good good good – that’s all.

Shane Blaney: 6 – A very good debut for the club despite his yellow card.

Walter Figueira: 7 – Played really well, with some nice flicks on show.

Jordan Gibson: 7 – Danced and weaved through the defence at times.

Romeo Parkes: 7 – He was unlucky with some of his attempts in the first half.

Johnny Kenny: 7 – Wasn’t involved in the second half but got us that all-important equalizer.

Ryan De Vries: N/A – Got involved in his limited time on the pitch.

After Match Reception

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From a 3-1 victory to a 1-0 loss, a once off or a new habit?

Patching scores a penalty resulting in a 1-0 victory for the Candystripes. (Eoin Nonnan).

We highly impressed on 20th April, with a 3-1 victory over Bohs playing away from home. Jordan Gibson volleyed the ball into the net following impressive play as Parkes and Kenny linked the ball up-field. Mark Byrne scored his first professional goal for the club having been taken on as a substitute. David Cawley followed suit leaving the bench and scoring our 3rd goal. Both teams had periods of domination and possession. Rovers played with a fast tempo and pressed high on the attack for the majority of the game. Our defensive line was probably the strongest it’s been yet, as Horgan and Mahon particularly cleared dangerous balls.

Points but not performance

Liam Buckley has admitted on several occasions that although he was ‘delighted with the points’, he didn’t feel performance was up to standard. This was particularly evident as we took on Waterford. He was underwhelmed by the team’s performance in their 2-1 victory at the RSC, despite having come from behind with wonder goals from Parkes and Gibson sealing all three points. Buckley summarised the opening games ‘Our general play was nowhere near up to scratch’.

A victory to Longford and a draw with Shamrock Rovers followed. Although a draw with 2020 Champions was impressive, the game was reasonably equal and little chances were made. Buckley admitted there ‘really wasn’t much to the game’. Points were gained but Buckley remained reasonably unimpressed. That was until the victory to Bohs, where he claimed ‘we worked extremely hard and all our goals were top class’. This win stood out , ‘We’ve shown a bit of character’.

Mark Byrne celebrates his first senior goal with Kenny

Buckley was the most satisfied he had been all season, and supporters were highly impressed having being undefeated so far. However, 4 days later the same team suffered a 1-0 loss to Derry City , who were and still are scrapping the bottom of the League table. This game had felt a guaranteed or ‘safe win’ according to many supporters. What went wrong to go from a 3-1 victory to a 1-0 loss to the tables bottom team?

Similar starting squad

In terms of the starting 11, Buckley has nearly always used the same first squad. He also makes use of subs sparingly. He tends to make the right choices, so far subs Kenny, Cawley and Byrne have scored coming off the bench. It is important to note that the Bohs side we played had made 5 changes to their starting squad. Derry on the other hand came onto the pitch with a familiar starting 11. Whether or not this could’ve made a difference is questionable. Surely a team with the same starting 11 they’ve used all season are more secure than a drastically changed starting squad? Without doubt, our first team have quickly gelled this season. Particularly on the attack with link-up play between Parkes, Kenny and Gibson proving impressive. We made use of only 3 subs in the Bohs game, with 2 of them scoring. In contrast we made 5 changes in the Derry game.

The dreaded penalty

We always have to factor in the ref in these games. Neil Doyle refereed for the Bohs game with John Mc Laughlin supervising the Derry game. Mc Laughlin is typically considered one of the ‘stricter’ refs, who tends to give away ‘easy’ free-kicks, cards etc. The loss at Derry came solely from a penalty given to the Candystripes early into the second half. Mahon was claimed to have tripped Parkhouse in the box, leaving Patching to take the penalty and score. There was controversy over this penalty as the tackle did not look particularly rough and seemed unavoidable in the crowded box. Mahon is one our most experienced defenders, and if this was a once-off slip up, we can surely move past it?

Mahons tackle resulting in a penalty (BITORED PHOTOGRAPHY).

A slow tempo

There were chances early on in both games but the tempo of the Bohs game did not follow suit as we took on Derry. As guest commentator Joey N’do explained, Derry controlled the game. The tempo was kept at their pace, with regular fouls allowing Derry to use-up valuable time. The Bohs game was intense from the get-go and was an extremely entertaining game to watch. Derry on the other side started a little quieter. After the first 20 minutes our tempo came to a halt. The game at times was stalemate. It is fair to say that the game was equal in performance and a draw would’ve been a fair result.

Is it fair to completely blame our loss on this penalty? We have come from behind before this season, and there were practically no attempts to salvage a draw. Rover’s first shot on target happened on the 89th minute, from distance, which just proves our attack was seriously lacking.

Fatigue

Could fatigue be blamed for the loss? Rovers had already played a game that Tuesday. 3 games in seven days with the same starting first team may explain the slow tempo and lack of energy/drive. But playing a series of successive matches is something the team will face again and need to be prepared for. This will be particularly important with two big upcoming games, St Pats on May 3rd and Dundalk on May 7th.

David Cawley

A once off?

Was this loss to the bottom-of-the-table team a once off or is it something you can see happening again after a period of going undefeated? It was our first time losing at all this season, which has to be expected at some stage. Was it better to lose to Derry and win to Bohs, or have lost to Bohs and won the lower Derry side? Surely beating the Dublin team higher in the table was more impressive?

Whether it was a bad decision by the referee, a dodgy tackle in the box, fatigue or just pure bad luck, it was our first defeat all season. Hopefully this is not something we repeat again especially with more dominant sides. A lot of LOI fans argue that the loss means us supporters were too naive to claim we were in the title chase so early. But can one defeat to a penalty really prove that?
As Buckley said the squad is pressing higher this season, has more depth and is working extremely hard. Us supporters will hope that this was a once off slip up. Although this may have affected the squads confidence, we hopefully still look threatening going ahead and aim to be the side to beat.

We take on Drogheda this Friday, a side fresh out of the First Division. However, they have impressed over-all, sitting in 5th place. A loss to this side could slowly see us slip down the table further.

What do you all think?

A once off mistake or the start of a slower tempo side who will struggle in the next few games?

Sligo Rovers squad vs Derry (BITOREDPHOTOGRAPHY)
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New manager bounce sees Derry past lacklustre Rovers

Sligo Rovers succumbed to a 1-0 defeat to Derry City in their first game under new boss Ruaidhri Higgins. A Will Patching penalty from a John Mahon tackle early on in the second half secured victory for the boys from the Brandywell.

One change only today (who would’ve thought?), and it was an enforced one, with Liam Buckley choosing club captain David Cawley to replace Walter Figueira, who came off injured against Bohemians. A very familiar face round these parts will be returning to the Showgrounds, albeit in the Candystripes’ dugout, with Raf Cretaro being taken on by Ruaidhri Higgins for his coaching setup. The new man also made only one change, with Will Patching replacing Daniel Lafferty.

The first half of the match wasn’t packed with goalscoring chances in any means but it was an interesting affair all the same, with the best bit of play coming around half an hour in, with some beautiful interplay between Romeo Parkes, Johnny Kenny and Jordan Gibson leading to a chance which was smothered by Gartside in the Derry goal.

Robbie McCourt had to be replaced by Regan Donelon at half time due to a knock he suffered late in the first half, but the second half he entered was a poor showing for Rovers from start to finish, with a soft penalty given against John Mahon, who was adjudged by referee John McLaughlin to have tripped David Parkhouse in the box after a whipped free-kick. Will Will Patching score? The answer was yes, as he made no mistake from the spot, deceiving Ed McGinty during the runup to slot home. The Bit O’Red never looked like kicking on during the game, even after the concession of the goal, and with the substitutions of Mark Byrne, Darren Gibson and Ryan De Vries for Romeo Parkes, Jordan Gibson and Johnny Kenny respectively. In the end, Derry kept solid and only allowed a solitary effort on goal, a wild Mahon effort with about 3 minutes to go.

I think the only positive from that game was Joey N’Do on commentary if I’m honest. Anyways, next up is the fresh outta First Division Drogheda United next Friday. Join me then for another report.

Teams

SLIGO ROVERS:  E McGinty, C Horgan, J Mahon, G Buckley, R McCourt (R Donelon 46), D Cawley, G Bolger, N Morahan (L Banks 67), J Gibson (D Collins 80), R Parkes (M Byrne 67), J Kenny (R De Vries 80).

DERRY CITY:  N Gartside, R Boyce, E Toal, C McJannett, C Coll (D Lafferty 72), C Harkin, J Malone (J Thomson 62), W Patching, W Fitzgerald, J Akintunde, D Parkhouse (B Barr 80).

REF: John McLaughlin

Rovers Ratings

Ed McGinty: 6 – Swept and distributed well. Unlucky with the penalty.

Colm Horgan: 6 – Wasn’t good, wasn’t bad.

Garry Buckley: 6 – Did ok in defence but wasn’t sure when he stepped into midfield, although that could’ve been because of the knock he got midway through the second half.

John Mahon: 5 – Conceded the penalty (which was harsh in my opinion) and didn’t inspire after that.

Robbie McCourt: 6 – Came off at half time, so he couldn’t stamp his authority on the match.

Greg Bolger: 6 – Did all he could but it wasn’t enough.

Niall Morahan: 6 – Was decent but not in any way terrific. Taken off for Banks halfway into the second half.

David Cawley: 6 – I haven’t seen him as the highest midfielder in the 3 long enough to form an opinion that isn’t reactionary, but I do think he and the team would be better served deeper.

Jordan Gibson: 5 – Couldn’t work his way through the Derry defence today. Replaced by Collins after 80 minutes.

Romeo Parkes: 6 – Didn’t get going today, I think he play better leading the line as opposed to out wide. Came off for Mark Byrne on 67 minutes.

Johnny Kenny: 6 – The ball wasn’t given to him at all really. Hooked for De Vries with 10 minutes to go.

Regan Donelon: 6 – His first competitive minutes this season were decent.

Lewis Banks: 6 – Don’t know why he was centre-back instead of full-back but I won’t complain since he had a serviceable cameo.

Mark Byrne: 6 – Wasn’t spotted at all on the left side.

Darren Collins: N/A – Didn’t get enough time for me to rate him.

Ryan De Vries: N/A – (ctrl+c, ctrl+v) Didn’t get enough time for me to rate him.

After Match Reception

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Destruction in Dalymount

Gibson who finished with conviction…

Photography by James Fallon

Bohemians were no match for Sligo Rovers’ firepower up top on Tuesday night, with Jordan Gibson and two of Liam Buckley’s substitutes; Mark Byrne and David Cawley on target for the Bit O’Red. It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Sligo boys however, as Liam Burt showed when he struck home with aplomb from 25 yards.

It was a side you could have guessed which started the game in Dalymount, with only one change from our last game against Finn Harps. Can you guess it? Of course, it was Ryan De Vries making way for our academy graduate turned starter, Johnny Kenny. Bohemians also made 5 changes from their previous game against Waterford last Friday.

The first knockings of the opening period set the tone for the rest of the clash, with huge chances for both teams to score in the founding moments through Georgie Kelly, his strike saved well by Ed McGinty in nets. Johnny Kenny could’ve broken the fragile deadlock soon after when he found himself with the ball at his feet close to James Talbot’s net, but the young Gypsy was equal to Kenny’s effort. The game continued in end-to-end fashion until Kenny again received the ball in the box, this time hitting the crossbar from close to 20 yards from goal. The breakthrough was to come our way on the half-hour mark, with Kenny once again involved in slipping a crisp through ball to Romeo Parkes, who did well to cross to Jordan Gibson who finished with conviction.

The second half started in the worst possible way for the Bit O’Red, with Liam Burt rifling home from outside the box with a sumptuous curling effort. This goal was to be the turning point in the match, with Bohemians finding new belief and pressing high up the pitch. Despite this, Rovers held firm and were able to find success when a hopeful cross was flicked on by the ever-present Kenny into Mark Byrne’s path, who calmly slotted home to net his first senior goal for the club. This was a tough blow for Bohs, who came back swinging and had a gilt-edged chance to score through Keith Ward after an Ed McGinty parry led to a virtually open net, which he missed to level the game. The Bit O’Red switched on and showed their ruthlessness after this chance, with David Cawley striking into the the near corner in some style.

I need an editor, seriously; again I offermy apologies for forgetting to change Ryan De Vries’ rating from the Shams game. Anyways, we’ll see you next time for Friday’s match against Derry City, if you can get past these rookie mistakes.

Teams

SLIGO ROVERS:  E McGinty, C Horgan (L Banks 86), J Mahon, G Buckley, R McCourt, J Gibson, G Bolger, N Morahan, W Figueira (M Byrne 59), R Parkes (D Cawley 81), J Kenny.

BOHEMIANS:  J Talbot, C Kelly, R Cornwall, R Feely, A Breslin, R Tierney (K Ward 81), C Levingston (A Coote 81), J Moylan, D Devoy, L Burt, G Kelly (P Omochere 71).

REF: Neil Doyle

Rovers Ratings

Ed McGinty: 8 – Made some giant saves today and was decisive in his area.

Colm Horgan: 7 – Was more defensively rather than offensively minded today but he did his job well. Taken off for Banks late on.

Garry Buckley: 6 – Another solid performance.

John Mahon: 7 – Was needed today and stepped up.

Robbie McCourt: 6 – A good performance from a player very quickly settling in.

Greg Bolger: 6 – A solid performance capped off with a late assist. Not much more to say other than he did the dirty work for the team.

Niall Morahan: 6 – Was very tenacious in midfield today.

Walter Figueira: 6 – Came off injured. Hopefully he gets back soon since he’s had a bug upturn in form.

Jordan Gibson: 7 – Tucked away his golazo very well.

Romeo Parkes: 7 – Did really well for the first goal.

Johnny Kenny: 8 – The latest Arrow Harps alumnus produces on the big stage again. What a prestigious production line at that club (not biased I swear).

Mark Byrne: 7 – Comes on and scores. The kid’s a star.

David Cawley: 8 – What a strike. What more can I say?

Lewis Banks: N/A – Good to see him back.

After Match Reception

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Sligo Rovers’ Academy producing pivotol players

Johnny Kenny

17- year old Johnny Kenny’s winning goal against Finn Harps exemplifies the product of Sligo Rovers underage academy system. Kenny is a brilliant example of a young player who rose through the ranks, signing his first professional contract for the club this January. He played for his schools side- Coola Post Primary School while also playing for his local club- Arrow Harps. Kenny went on to join Rovers U-17 team, making a big impression in recent years. This culminated in Kenny being the top scorer in the U-17 Airtricity League, having racked up 17 goals in 8 games. Having progressed to the U-19 team, he proved pivotal scoring two goals in the Shield Semi-final and four in the Final.

Johnny Kenny scores his first professional goal (Credit: Bit O Red Photography).

After signing professionally for the Bit O’ Red this season, Kenny was highly involved during pre-season friendlies. He impressed scoring a series of consecutive goals. This created a remarkable reputation as a potential goal-scorer for the club. Kenny was part of the first-team squad for every game so far this season and was taken off the bench for the game in which he scored his first ever professional goal on 17th April . Rovers’ are not necessarily short of goals, but there is a void in the position of go-to goalscorer. This is particularly evident this season as the attacking line has drastically changed. The forward-line altered having lost both Junior and Coughlan this season. Instead Figeuira, Kenny and Gibson signed, as Parkes returned.

No.1 Academy graduate

Kenny is not the only impressive academy graduate to prove pivotal to the Sligo Rovers squad. Goalkeeper Ed Mc Ginty also came through the ranks. Mc Ginty played every minute of every game during the compressed 2020 season. He is often recognised as one of the League’s most skilled keepers. The young keeper gained international recognition as he was called up to play with the Ireland U-21 squad. Mc Ginty has been nominated for Sligo Rovers ‘Player of the year 2020’, after being recognised as ‘Man Of The Match’ on several occassions. Mc Ginty originally hails from Scotland and gained under-age experience with both Celtic and Hibernia.

After moving to Ballyshannon as a teenager, Mc Ginty joined Rovers’ U-19 ranks. Throughout this period, he was involved with the senior squad pre-season friendlies. Ed began his professional debut in 2017 and continues to wear the No.1 jersey since the 2019/2020 season. He has now established himself as first choice keeper. Mc Ginty has signed a further 2 year contract with the club in November 2020. He explains he is willing to ‘commit long term to the club’ and ‘is just getting started’.

Ed Mc Ginty (The Sun).

Local talent

Collooney native John Mahon began his football career with experience at his local club- Ballisodare United. Mahon quickly progressed from Rovers’ U-17 side to training with the U-19 side. Mahon began his professional career with the club in 2017 and remains a key link in the solid defensive line. Having been awarded ‘Young Player of the Year’ for the club in 2018, he remained first-choice defender throughout 2019.

Mahon has played over 60 matches for Rovers despite being ruled out for 8 months due to a broken leg. The Sligo native’s progress has not gone unnoticed as he was called into the U-21 Ireland camp in 2019. Both Celtic and Rangers were interested in the defender alongside Blackburn Rovers and Derby County. Mahon is noted for his physicality and talent in the defensive role. Mahon has also signed a 2 year contract for the Bit O’ Red in 2020, claiming that he ‘wants to get to the next level’. Liam Buckley admits ‘ he has a fantastic career ahead of him’.

Sligo native John Mahon

Player of the season

Midfielder Niall Morahan, who was awarded Sligo Rovers Player of the season 2020, also progressed through the under-age system in place at The Showgrounds. Leitrim native Morahan began training withSligo Rovers U-17 side in 2015. In 2018 he stepped up to the club’s U-19 side and also made his professional debut this year. In August 2019 Niall signed a long term deal with Rovers via Sligo IT’s sports scholarship programme. Morahan extended his contract in October 2020. Niall explains the benefits of coming through the youth system, noting that it prepares you to ‘be up to speed with the intensity and physical demands of the league’.

Although Morahan was utilised at right-back early in his professional football career , he is now being positioned in the middle of the pitch, which he prefers. Morahan also gained an international name in 2019 having been called up for the U-19 Ireland side. Morahan has been a notable midfielder on the first-team throughout the 2020 season. Heading into this season, he has been recognised for his impressive passing and linkage play. Several other players on the first-team squad have graduated from the under-age system, but are yet to join the starting 11.

Niall Morahan Player of the year 2020

Next generation

Sligo Rovers currently have five academy teams playing in the League of Ireland National Underage Leagues. The youngest team, the U-13 side, have played two seasons and are managed by Alan Farry with the assistance of Kieran Brick. Throughout 2021, this age group will be changed to U-14 meaning even more potential players can train with the team. The U-15 side managed to top their group in Phase One last season and are highly competitive. The success of this side is owed to coaches/managers Marcel Gordon, Paul Materson and Conor O’ Grady. The U-17 side, under the management of Ryan Casey, finished the 2020 season strong also. The final academy group, the U-19s, compete in the Under-19 Shield Competition and are highly competitive.
Sligo Rovers also hold a competitive season with their under-age women’s side. The team have played against challenging sides such as Shamrock Rovers and Champions Peamount United. Therefore, the potential lies for a future Sligo Rovers senior womens’ team.

Sligo Rovers U-17 women’s team


Without doubt, Sligo Rovers under-age academies have played a pivotal role throughout the years. The system continues to do so, having integrated young players into the senior squad as professional athletes. This of course is the ultimate goal of the academy. Coaches, managers and all involved in the academies have much to be proud of. The after-product of the system proves highly successful. Many League of Ireland supporters admire this system, preferring to see locals rise through the ranks, as supposed to continuously signing players from abroad, while losing our own to foreign teams. The academies at The Showgrounds continue to provide pivotal players to the senior Sligo Rovers squad and are sure to foster talent and develop the future players of our club.