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European roadtrip incoming!

… ended Sligo Rovers’ season”

Shamrock Rovers were too tall an order for Sligo Rovers to overcome in Tallaght on Sunday’s FAI Cup semi-final tie after a first-half brace from Aaron McEneff left the Bit O’Red with it all to do in the second period. Rovers’ performance was an admirable one, however, with Alan Mannus being busier than he might have expected before the early kick-off.  The result shouldn’t hamper our European charge, as it all hinges on the winner of the Cup; if Dundalk triumph over Athlone Town, Europe is ours without needing to know the winner of the final.

Liam Buckley returned to his most trusted XI, with Niall Morahan and Jesse Devers returning from suspension to replace Will Seymore and Alex Cooper. Our last trip to Tallaght was one to forget, with the Bit O’Red on the wrong end of a 4-0 scoreline. Shams made 4 changes to the team that inflicted this trouncing, with Aaron Greene, Neil Farrugia, Rhys Marshall and Gary O’Neill all departing their starting squad.

Shamrock Rovers flew out of the blocks at the start of the match, with the Hoops generating several chances in the opening seconds, one of which led to a goal after a dangerous Jack Byrne corner led to Aaron McEneff finding the net after only 3 minutes. Shams’ quality was apparent in the first 15 minutes before the Bit O’Red took control of the fixture, with our lads having some dangerous attempts through Lewis Banks, Junior, and Ronan Coughlan, with the closest attempt to level the contest through the latter with a free header straight at Alan Mannus on 39 minutes. We kept up the pressure on Shams’ goal until the dying seconds of the half, when McEneff got free and clipped a daisy-cutter into the bottom corner from about 20 yards out in added time of the first half.

Sligo Rovers’ pressure didn’t let up in the break, with the Bit O’Red having the lion’s share of possession for most of the second half. Liam Buckley made his substitutions relatively early on, the first of which was at half time, with Jesse Devers hauled off for Alex Cooper. The departure of Niall Morahan and Ryan De Vries for Darragh Noone and Will Seymore was next up in the 67th minute, the objective of which was to get some much-needed fresh legs in the midfield. David Cawley was the final Bit O’Red man to be called ahead of time, with Danny Kane replacing him. After this bout of substitutions, Shams saw out the game and in doing so, ended Sligo Rovers’ season.

Teams

SLIGO ROVERS:  E McGinty; L Banks, J Mahon, G Buckley, R Donelon, D Cawley (D Kane 74), N Morahan (D Noone 67), J Devers (A Cooper 46), R Coughlan, R De Vries (W Seymore 67), J Ogedi-Uzokwe.

SHAMROCK ROVERS:  A Mannus; G O’Brien, L Grace, L Scales, R Marshall, S Kavanagh (D Lafferty 76), R Finn (D Nugent 89), J McEneff, J Byrne (N Farrugia 76), D Watts (G Bolger 76), G Burke (D Williams 82).

Ref: P McLoughlin

Rovers Ratings

Ed McGinty: 6 – Couldn’t stop either of the goals.

Lewis Banks: 7 – Was marauding down the right once again.

Garry Buckley: 6 – Wasn’t intent on closing down McEneff for the second goal.

John Mahon: 6 – Did decent as did the rest of the defence to only concede two against the unbeaten league winners.

Regan Donelon: 6 – Played decent. Some good set-piece deliveries.

Jesse Devers: 5 – Had no service on the right side. Replaced at half-time for Cooper.

David Cawley: 6 – Outclassed by Sham’s quality in the middle of the park. Replaced by Kane with 15 minutes left.

Niall Morahan: 6 – Didn’t have license to get forward like he usually does due to the strength of Shams’ midfield. Replaced by Noone.

Ryan De Vries: 6 – Didn’t get much of the ball at all. Replaced by Seymore in the second half to keep it at 2-0.

Ronan Coughlan: 6 – Had our best chance but headed straight at Mannus.

Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe: 6 – Had some half-chances in the first half but couldn’t score.

Alex Cooper: 6 – Cut in well off the right.

Will Seymore: 6 – Swept up decently while he was on.

Darragh Noone: 6 – Offered impetus but was too little, too late unfortunately.

Danny Kane: N/A – Didn’t get enough time to warrant a rating.

Thanks to everyone reading this far down for reading these reports. It’s been a good half-season. While I write this, Dundalk are in the heat of battle against Athlone in the other semi. Let’s hope the next article I put out will confirm our place in Europe for next season. I’ve just checked the score, it’s 6-0 before half-time. Let’s get out the banners, because Buckley’s Bit O’Red European tour is ON!!!

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Penalty roulette spins in Rovers’ favour

Meite needs to score to keep Derry in it. He doesn’t.

Derry City proved no match for Sligo Rovers in a penalty shootout with 4 misses, 4 goals, and remarkably, 0 saves. A scoreless 120 minutes which didn’t lack in intensity gave way to a 3-1 penalty triumph for the Bit O’Red.
Wednesday’s game was a long time coming, with the game being postponed from Friday the 20th due to alleged positive COVID tests in the Derry camp.


Liam Buckley made two enforced changes for Wednesday’s game, with Will Seymore and Alex Cooper replacing the suspended duo of Niall Morahan and Jesse Devers. Derry made 4 changes from our previous clash with the Candystripes, which ended 1-0 after a late Ryan De Vries goal.


The first half proved to be a tense affair for the Rovers, where it was clear that neither team wanted to lose the match. City took control of the match and attempted to lay siege on the Churchill Road End goal where Ed McGinty stood, but he was rarely called into action due to our strong defense and lack of creativity on Derry’s part. We finished the second half with a flourish, with Coughlan drawing a good save from Peter Cherrie from a Junior through pass. Garry Buckley volleyed just over from the subsequent corner, and soon after, the half time whistle blew.


The game opened up a lot in the second half, with both sides having chances to score. Liam Buckley waited until the 84th minute to make his first of two substitutions, switching out David Cawley for the versatile Darragh Noone. McGinty then faced a fresh barrage of relatively easy shots before matching Stephen Mallon with a great save late on. The following corner resulted in Cameron McJannet hitting the crossbar with a thunderous header. Buckley’s squad woke up after this and took control of the match, with Regan Donelon nearly scoring by catching Cherrie out on a free kick, but the Derry netminder was equal to the task.


Buckley used the break between full time and extra time to reinforce the backline by bringing on a now fully-fit Danny Kane, sacrificing Ryan De Vries in the process. This change allowed Rovers to control the ball in extra time, and although it didn’t lead to a goal, it certainly settled the nerves for the dreaded penalty shootout.


Rovers got the first kick of the night, and what a nice kick it was, with Jorginho Ronan Coughlan proving his worth on the spot. 1-0. Conor Clifford steps up for Derry. 1-1. Can’t save those. Junior, the former Derry man approaches, and attempts to copy Jorginho Coughlan. Hits the post. 1-1. McCormack, to put Derry in the driving seat. Over the bar. 1-1. Cooper next. No messing with this one, Straight down the middle with all the power of a traction engine. 2-1. Figueira picks up the ball, puts it down and steps up. Slips. 2-1. Lovely, we’re in command. Garry Buckley now. Right into the bottom left corner. 3-1. Meite needs to score to keep Derry in it. He doesn’t. Rovers win. Easy as you like.

Teams

SLIGO ROVERS: E McGinty; L Banks, J Mahon, G Buckley, R Donelon, D Cawley (D Noone 84), W Seymore, A Cooper, R Coughlan, R De Vries (D Kane 90), J Ogedi-Uzokwe.

DERRY CITY: P Cherrie; C Coll, C McJannet, E Toal, C Horgan, J Malone, G Bruna (W Figueira 81), C McCormack, J Akintunde (I Meite 86), S Mallon (J Thomson 81), A Hammil (C Clifford 113).
Ref: N Doyle
Rovers Ratings

Ed McGinty: 7 – Made a good stop to deny Mallon but didn’t have much else to do apart from that.
Lewis Banks: 6 – Getting forward a lot more now and forced a good save from Cherrie in the second half.
Garry Buckley: 6 – Played good. Came close on the volley off a corner. Scored his penalty.
John Mahon: 6 – Looked more intent on playing from the back and stepping out, which was needed with Morahan’s absence.
Regan Donelon: 6 – Caught Cherrie off guard and nearly scored from a free at the cusp of full time.
Alex Cooper: 7 – Put in some beautiful crosses and had his man on strings on the right. Scored his penalty.
David Cawley: 6 – Had more freedom with Seymore behind him to attempt to dictate the play. Taken off for Noone.
Will Seymore: 6 – Apart from tackling his teammate in the first half (and what a tackle it was), he steadied the ship at the back and was able to play as an “anchor man”.
Ryan De Vries: 6 – Played in behind Coughlan but was a bit too far up to receive the ball where he likes it. Taken off for Kane at the beginning of extra time.
Ronan Coughlan: 6 – Suffered from a lack of service. Scored his penalty Jorginho-style.
Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe: 6 – Was persistently fouling down the left but when he wasn’t was winning the ball and driving well. Missed his penalty, but only because he wanted to give back to his old club (I need to stop making excuses for these).

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Europe is in sight!!!



European trip is on the cards

Photo by jfallonphotography/

Sligo Rovers defeated Europa League challengers Dundalk by 2 goals to nil on Monday night in Tolka Park to close out the league season. The result means that unless Athlone Town, Finn Harps, or Derry City (who we play next) win the FAI Cup, a European trip is on the cards for next season (!!!!!!) for the first time since 2013. 

Before Monday’s game, 4th was possible by two means; we win and Waterford lose, or we win by two and Waterford draw 0-0 (why not both!); so if we were to qualify, we owe our neighbours Finn Harps a favour. 

Rovers made one change for their final league game of the season, with David Cawley returning to the XI in place of Will Seymore. Dundalk made 6 changes from their last game, with former Rovers man Gary Rogers returning as net-minder. 

Rovers made a scintillating start to the game and had the Lilywhites on the retreat from the off aside from a potshot from 20 yards about 2 minutes in. Rovers made their advantage count after 9 minutes when Banks was equal to Nathan Oduwa’s rainbow flick attempt and was able to find De Vries. Our New Zealander flicked away and brought the transition out right to Jesse Devers, who c̶o̶u̶l̶d ̶r̶u̶n̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶b̶y̶l̶i̶n̶e̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶g̶e̶t̶ ̶a̶ ̶c̶r̶o̶s̶s̶ ̶i̶n̶ hit a looping cross-shot which evaded Rogers and nestled into the stanchion. After this certainly anomalous way to take the lead, Rovers began to take control of the game and pressured Dundalk into many sloppy mistakes, not something you’d expect from a team in European contention. Dundalk did manage to rally a series of corners which forced a save of the season contender from Ed McGinty on 43 minutes. Junior nearly doubled our lead before half-time from Banks’ cross but our man couldn’t muster a powerful effort. 

In the second half, Dundalk attempted to pile on the pressure; but that proved to be to Liam Buckley’s advantage, as the Bit O’Red stood firm and mustered quite a few counter-attacking chances. Regan Donelon, on a yellow, was taken off for Alex Cooper to provide some fresh legs down the left on the hour. Chances came and went for both sides, before Ryan De Vries’ evening was drawn to a close with Darragh Noone replacing him. Shortly after, Niall Morahan pulled up with cramp (it looked to be cramp anyway) and was swapped for Will Seymore. In doing this, Buckley looked to preserve the one goal lead and brought the team into a more defensive shape, inviting Dundalk forward to lay siege on our fortifications. The breaches in the fortifications were seldom but caused huge panic, especially on two occasions, where carnage in the area ultimately led to a tame shot into McGinty’s grasp. The ball was hoisted into the air in Dundalk’s half soon after, and Junior rose to win the duel in the air. The ball then fell to our top scorer Ronan Coughlan, who took a touch, set himself, and delivered an absolute postage stamp into the top bins (as the kids say these days) from 20 yards out, and with that, Rovers’ job was done. 

Teams 

SLIGO ROVERS:  E McGinty; L Banks, J Mahon, G Buckley, R Donelon (A Cooper 64), D Cawley, N Morahan (W Seymore 78), J Devers, R Coughlan, R De Vries (D Noone 74), J Ogedi-Uzokwe. 

DUNDALK:  G Rogers; S Hoare, B Gartland, C Dummigan (D Leahy 83), D Cleary, G Sloggett, G Morrissey, N Oduwa, S Murray (S Gannon 46), J Flores (J Mountney 74), S Colovic, P Hoban (D McMillan 45) 

Ref: D Tomney 

Rovers Ratings 

Ed McGinty8 – A clutch save (some more urban language) at the dying embers of each half. Sooner we sign him up for ‘21 the better. 

Lewis Banks6 – Gave some good attacking output in addition to his defence. 

Garry Buckley6 – Buckley (Liam I mean) seems to have found his best pairing with this duo. 

John Mahon6 – Settled at the back now. 

Regan Donelon6 – Played decent. 

Jesse Devers8 – Put in a bolt from the blue early on which allowed to momentum, and eventually the result, to come our way. 

David Cawley6 – Played good, kept it tight ahead of the defence. 

Niall Morahan6 – Didn’t get many opportunities to burst from deep 

Ryan De Vries7 – Kept the ball moving in the 10 position. 

Ronan Coughlan8 – Produced when we needed him. 

Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe: 6 – Evaded the Dundalk defence well. 

Alex Cooper: 6 – Did his job defensively. 

Darragh Noone: 6 – Was a presence in the air that we needed late on. 

Will Seymore: 6 – Did what he was instructed to do – kept it tight. 

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Coughlan penalty and McGinty heroics keep European chances alive

Sligo Rovers triumphed 2-1 against a youthful Cork City side who gave a better performance than their condemnation to the First Division illustrated on Saturday night. Two penalties proved crucial to the result, with the first coming after only 7 minutes.

Rovers lined up with a more attacking shape than the defeat at Tolka Park last week, with Regan Donelon, Garry Buckley, and Will Seymore replacing Teemu Penninkangas, Sigitas Olberkis and David Cawley, the latter two of which join our lengthy injury list.

Cork City sat at the foot of the table before this game, with the two teams having the 2nd and worst form in the league and needed a win to have a chance of staying up if results went their way (spoiler alert; they didn’t). Their ferocity surprised the Bit O’Red early doors; with their ability to create chances leading to a penalty after Alec Byrne’s shot hit off John Mahon’s outstretched arm. Kit Elliot’s resulting spot-kick was saved with aplomb by McGinty, diving low to his right to put the ball out of play. A couple of minutes later and the Rovers hit the front, with McGinty again proving pivotal. His long ball forward caused disarray in the Rebel Army ranks and allowed Junior to pounce, outpacing Ochieng and poking past the onrushing Bossin. Rover’s superiority showed throughout the rest of the half, with Devers, Coughlan, and Junior all having efforts but couldn’t find the net before the half-time whistle.

Ryan De Vries wasn’t 100% to play 90 minutes and was taken off for Darragh Noone at half-time. Cork found control of the game in the second half and had chances to threaten McGinty through O’Brien-Whitmarsh, but the equaliser came through the substitute Dylan McGlade, when his low drive from a wide free-kick evaded everyone in the box before nestling in the bottom corner. This dominance continued with Cian Coleman coming close (any English teacher would be proud of that alliteration) from a cross-shot soon after McGlade’s effort. After this however, the game opened up and both sides traded chances until chaos ensued in the Leesider’s box after a dangerous corner fell to Junior who was fouled by Bossin, and Rob Hennessy pointed to the spot accordingly. It was Ronan Coughlan’s duty to convert, and convert he did, tricking Bossin with a Jorginho-esque technique (our man created it, Jorginho just publicised it). Donelon was then swapped for Cooper to provide some impetus and energy on the left flank. The Bit O’Red were then able to see out the game comfortably and, with the aid of Finn Harps, condemn Cork City to relegation.

Teams

SLIGO ROVERS: E McGinty; L Banks, J Mahon, G Buckley, R Donelon (A Cooper 76), W Seymore, N Morahan, J Devers, R Coughlan, R De Vries (D Noone 45), J Ogedi-Uzokwe.

CORK CITY: L Bossin; H Ochieng, J Olowu, J O’Brien, K O’Connor; R Hurley (C Bargary 45), G Morrissey, C Coleman, A Byrne (D McGlade 60), B O’Brien-Whitmarsh (C Murphy 80), K Elliot.Ref: R Hennessy

Rovers Ratings

Ed McGinty: 8 – A penalty save and an assist. Would’ve had the trifecta but McGlade had other ideas.

Lewis Banks: 6 – Did good in defence.

Garry Buckley: 6 – A solid display at centre-half.

John Mahon: 6 – Did well for the second game running.

Regan Donelon: 5 – Didn’t operate with as much fervour as we’re used to. Replaced by Cooper with 15 minutes left.

Jesse Devers: 6 – Put in some teasing crosses and came close to scoring in the first half.

Will Seymore: 6 – Played good, kept it tight ahead of the defence.

Niall Morahan: 7 – So good at moving the ball forward. Always there between the lines.

Ryan De Vries: 6 – Obviously wasn’t at full fitness aand was taken off at half-time.

Ronan Coughlan: 7 – Won the game with the penalty technique he invented.

Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe: 7 – Did well to get the first goal, hopefully he can kick on from here.

Alex Cooper: 6 – Did good apart from an arguable foul throw late on.

Darragh Noone: 5 – Didn’t get a lot of the ball.

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Rovers slump to defeat against 10-man Shelbourne

Sligo Rovers fell to a 1-0 defeat against a dogged Shelbourne side on Sunday who received a red card due to Luke Byrne’s late challenge after 68 minutes. This loss leaves Rovers 7th, now level on points with Shelbourne and St.Pats, however the latter have two games in hand.

Liam Buckley made 4 personnel changes and wholesale tactical changes from our last game against Shamrock Rovers, with Sigitas Olberkis, Lewis Banks, David Cawley and John Mahon (who returned to action for the first time in 8 months) replacing Darragh Noone, Kyle Callan-McFaddan, Will Seymore, and Garry Buckley respectively.

Shelbourne sat in 8th before Sunday’s clash and any points they could pick up would be crucial. This hunger to get a result showed early on as they were energetic throughout the pitch and took the lead near the 20th minute when Penninkangas’ pocket was picked before an excellent bit of play from Dayle Rooney to dummy for his captain Gary Deegan to rifle in off the crossbar. Shelbourne could’ve doubled their lead on the half-hour mark, when This awoke the Bit O’Red, who had a good chance before the half was out through Ronan Coughlan, when he hit just over from Devers’ cross.

Buckley’s side started well in the second half, with De Vries engineering time and space to create a shot from 20 yards which was ultimately blocked. We lacked any bite or momentum throughout the game, Buckley attempted to rectify this by sending on Cooper and Noone for Olberkis and De Vries, but nothing unfolded until the 68th minute, when Luke Byrne went in late on Junior and received a straight red card for his troubles. Despite this, we were unable to really harm Shelbourne’s solid defense. Buckley then sent on Will Seymore and Mark Byrne for Morahan and Devers but nothing came out of it.

Teams

SLIGO ROVERS:  E McGinty; S Olberkis (A Cooper 60),  J Mahon, T Penninkangas, L Banks; D Cawley, N Morahan (W Seymore 78);  J Devers (M Byrne 78), R Coughlan, R De Vries (D Noone 60), J Ogedi-Uzokwe.

SHELBOURNE:  J Brady; G Poynton (D O’Reilly 19), O Brennan, L Byrne, A O’Hanlon; D Fernandes (D Byrne 72), G Deegan, M Byrne, R Brennan (S Quinn 85); D Rooney; C Kilduff (A Dobbs 85).

Ref: R Matthews

Rovers Ratings

Ed McGinty: 6 – Played well. Couldn’t have stopped the goal.

Sigitas Olberkis: 5 – Didn’t get forward enough. Replaced on the hour for Banks.

Teemu Penninkangas: 5 – Didn’t stand out on the pitch.

John Mahon: 6 – Great to see him back on the pitch. Settled in very quickly.

Lewis Banks: 5 – Lost his head near the end of the game.

Jesse Devers: 5 – Crossing was decent but didn’t offer much else.

David Cawley: 5 – Didn’t get on the ball too often.

Niall Morahan: 6 – Was very pleasing to watch.

Ryan De Vries: 5 – Ineffective on the left.

Ronan Coughlan: 5 – Came close on a couple of occasions but couldn’t hit the target.

Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe: 5 – Was unable to threaten Shams the way he could against Derry.

Alex Cooper: 6 – Offered attacking prowess down the left.

Darragh Noone: 5 – Couldn’t do much with the time he had.

Will Seymore: N/A – Was brought on late in the match.

Mark Byrne: N/A – Didn’t get enough time to warrant a rating.

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A trouncing in Tallaght

Copyright: Peter Fitzpatrick 2020 IrelandSports

Sligo Rovers slumped to a 4-0 defeat against Shamrock Rovers on Friday as the league leaders consolidated their stranglehold on the summit of the table. The result leaves us 4th on 17 points.

Liam Buckley made 1 change from the win against Derry, with Kyle Callan-McFadden returning to the squad after an illness. David Cawley returned from suspension to start on the bench.

Shamrock Rovers, the runaway league leaders, needed only 8 points from 6 games to win the title before Friday’s clash, and their quality shone through every aspect of the match. The start of the game was a cagey and tight affair with both teams finding out the other, but the breakthrough occurred after 13 minutes when Aaron Greene found Ronan Finn on the edge of the box in acres of space to flick and volley through McGinty’s barrier, not the start the academy product called up to the Irish U21 squad will have wanted. The reaction from the Bit O’Red was positive however, getting some territory and possession in our favour but ultimately not testing Alan Mannus in the Shams goal at all. After this short spell, Shams regained their control on the match and we conceded again in the 39th minute, with Jack Byrne – who has been picked by Stephen Kenny for his Ireland squad for the crunch qualifier against Slovakia – weighted an inch-perfect pass to Graham Burke for him to slot past the helpless McGinty.

Buckley’s team talk must have been a good one as the teams came flying out of the blocks in the second half but didn’t have the shots on target to show for it. The third goal arrived when a neat passing move was finished off when Byrne was able to squeeze the ball into the corner from the left-hand side. Liam Buckley then brought on Cooper and Banks for De Vries and Devers in an attempt to salvage the game – with Cooper attempting to cut inside from the right wing often – but the rout was completed with 12 minutes to go when Dylan Watts – who came on for Byrne – scored from a cutback by Rhys Marshall, another substitute. Garry Buckley pulled up with an injury and was replaced by David Cawley in the buildup for the goal. Cooper then shifted to left-back and Penninkangas to centre-half to see out the game as a result of Buckley’s injury.

Teams

SLIGO ROVERS: E McGinty; D Noone, G Buckley (D Cawley 81), K Callan-McFadden, T Penninkangas, W Seymore, N Morahan; J Ogedi-Uzokwe, R De Vries (A Cooper 64), J Devers (L Banks 64), R Coughlan

SHAMROCK ROVERS: A Mannus; L Scales, L Grace, J O’Brien (S Kavanagh 75), R Finn (R Marshall 77), N Farrugia (D Lafferty 79), A McEneff, G O’Neill, J Byrne (D Watts 74), G Burke, A Greene (D Williams 79)

Ref: D MacGraith

Rovers Ratings

Ed McGinty: 6 – Made some great stops in the second half but I can’t give him higher than a 6 due to his unfortunate error for the first goal.

Darragh Noone: 4 – Was bullied by Farrugia on the right.

Garry Buckley: 5 – Wasn’t great. Came off injured after the 4th goal, and we wish him well in his recovery.

Kyle Callan-McFadden: 5 – Didn’t set the world alight today.

T Penninkangas: 5 – Didn’t get forward enough, although that was probably planned considering Shams’ pace up top.

Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe: 5 – Was decent in the first half. Had some success on the left side.

Will Seymore: 5 – Bypassed too easily in midfield.

Niall Morahan: 5 – Couldn’t do much against the quality of Shams’ midfield.

Jesse Devers: 5 – Same story as against Derry, attacks came through him in the first half, but his performance deteriorated in the second.

Ronan Coughlan: 5 – Had a shocking first half but improved in the second.

Ryan De Vries: 5 – Was unable to threaten Shams the way he could against Derry.

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Rovers 1-0 Derry

Alluring cross to Ryan De Vries who headed in …

Photo by @jfallonphotography

Sligo Rovers left it late (oh so very late) to ensure victory against a dogged Derry City on Tuesday when substitute Alex Cooper swung in an alluring cross to Ryan De Vries who headed in after panic in the Derry backline. The 100 fans (described by the WatchLOI commentator as “the most passionate support in the league”) allowed into the Showgrounds were treated to a tense finale after Walter Figueira somehow hit the post with 12 minutes left.

Rovers were without the suspended David Cawley and Liam Buckley decided to shuffle the pack accordingly, with four changes being made; Darragh Noone dropping to right-back replacing Lewis Banks, Will Seymore for the aforementioned Cawley who also took the captain’s armband from him, Teemu Penninkangas in for Kyle Callan Mc-Faddan who’s been struck with an illness, and Alex Cooper made way for Jesse Devers.

Derry came to the Showgrounds with fervour after what looked a certain win in Dalymount Park was somehow wrenched from their grip with 2 goals in the six minutes of additional time. It showed in their play early on – with the wind in their favour – they were able to dominate possession for the first ten minutes, with their best chance in this period being an inswinging corner which beat everyone in red and white, including Ed McGinty, but unfortunately for Derry City it beat everyone in black too. It was clear to see from the pressing intensity and speed in transition that Buckley wanted a huge improvement from the Waterford game, and he was beginning to receive that improvement. Our captain on the night, Will Seymore, was able to find plenty of space in front of the two centre backs of Penninkangas and Buckley to switch the play well to Devers and Noone on the right hand side. This culminated with a soft penalty shout 29 minutes in when Coughlan was “pushed” to the ground reaching for a header, with Devers’  followup deflected over the bar. De Vries was able to control the game in the number 10 role from then until time, with a series of Hollywood passes out to Devers on the right which would lead to half-chances with Devers’ crosses.

After half time, Rovers ascertained the upper hand, forcing Derry back now that the wind was in the Bit O’Red’s favour. Even still, the game was evenly poised and either side could’ve walked away with the 3 points. This was quantified when a threatening cross from Ibrahim Meite was met by Walter Figueira, who hit the post from 6 yards out after 78. This was the wake up call our lads needed, as the players were starting to lose focus, which led to Liam Buckley taking off Devers and Donelon for Banks and Cooper respectively. And it was Cooper who ended up playing the perfect cross – which took out every single Derry defender – to the onrushing Ryan De Vries to head into the net from 6 yards out. Derry were too demoralised after this late finish to mount any real challenge on Ed McGinty’s goal in the 4 minutes added time.

Teams

ROVERS: E McGinty; D Noone, G Buckley, T Penninkangas, R Donelon (A Cooper, 80); W Seymore, N Morahan; J Ogedi-Uzokwe, R De Vries, J Devers (L Banks, 84); R Coughlan

DERRY CITY: P Cherrie; C Coll, J McJannet, E Toal, D Cole; J Dunwoody (C Harkin, 84), C McCormack; A Hammill, J Malone (Mallon, 60), W Figueira; J Akintunde (I Miete, 73)

Ref: Neil Doyle

Rovers Ratings

Ed McGinty: 6 – Didn’t have a lot to do, kept it tight and distributed well.

Darragh Noone: 6 – Overlapped Devers well before Banks came on to reinforce.

Garry Buckley: 8 – Did magnificently, was impenetrable at the back.

Teemu Penninkangas: 8 – Was towering as always in the air.

Regan Donelon: 6 – Corner delivery was decent. Taken off for Cooper after 80 minutes.

Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe: 7 – His linkup with Coughlan was incredible, the two are telepathic.

Will Seymore: 7 – Switched the ball excellently in the first half but was mediocre in the second, had a slip on the ball which led to a Derry chance.

Niall Morahan: 7 – Shuttled the ball brilliantly between the midfield lines

Jesse Devers: 7 – The Mayo man was our prime creator in the first half, but couldn’t get involved in the second. Taken off for Banks after 84 minutes to push Noone up further.

Ronan Coughlan: 7 – Got into space well despite being tightly marked. As mentioned before, great linkup with Junior.

Ryan De Vries: 9 – He was the antithesis of his Waterford performance, always looking for the ball and playing some Rolls-Royce stuff at times. To net the match-winner was the icing on the cake.

Alex Cooper: 7 – Played a  sumptuous cross for De Vries’ winner.

Lewis Banks: 6  – Reinforced the back when he came on.

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Waterford 1-0 Sligo Rovers

Rasper of a volley from 25 yards

Report by Jack Duignan. Jack is a secondary school student in Coola’

Match Report

Matthew Smith’s wonder strike on 9 minutes was enough for Waterford to take the three points against Rovers on Friday, despite Alex Cooper rounding Waterford keeper Brian Murphy but failing to execute his cutback. The result bolsters Waterford up to 3rd, and in a prime position to qualify for Europe next season. The loss leaves Rovers 6th, level on points with St. Pats and with work to do to steal a European place with 5 games left in the season.

Waterford had plenty of outgoings earlier in the week, with their previous manager John Sheridan departing for our very own Paul Cook’s Wigan side. Fran Rockett took over on Thursday and will remain until the end of the season at the least.

Onto the game anyway, the start was even until a penalty shout early on when Alex Cooper unleashed a strike which appeared to strike an arm when it was blocked but the muted appeals from the Rovers bench were quickly waved away by Sean Grant. Waterford switched on from there and hit the front spectacularly after 9 minutes. A long ball forward from Robbie Weir split Rovers’ centre backs and caused panic in the back, leaving Matthew Smith unmarked to execute a rasper of a volley from 25 yards which soared past the helpless Ed McGinty on its way to the top corner. That was just the start they needed after their previous 6-1 loss to Shams in Tallaght on Monday. After that, the game fell into a slow tempo until the 23rd minute, when Cooper picked Tunmise Sobowale’s pocket and steamed towards goal – rounding Brian Murphy in sticks – but the cavalry couldn’t arrive in time for our number 8 and his cutback was intercepted. After this altercation, Rovers had the upper hand in possession, with David Cawley having a cross-shot saved at the cusp of half time.

Half time then came and went, with Rovers out from the team talk first, laying the challenge for the Waterford players. And a challenge it was, with Coughlan stinging Murphy’s gloved palms withinr 20 seconds of the half starting. It was clear that the momentum wasn’t going anywhere for the time being, with Cooper hitting straight at Murphy after some good buildup after 48 minutes. Waterford then threatened to hit us on the break but some excellent sweeping from Ed McGinty (whose job was made harder due to the brutal sun) denied the onrushing Fitzgerald. David Cawley’s shirt was manhandled by the Waterford midfielders and suffered a tear, our longstanding number 22 with a temporary change to 33 to see out the game in. It was around then that Waterford began to wrest control of the game, with Kyle Callan-McFadden with a huge sliding tackle inside the area on 64 minutes. Liam Buckley then hooked Alex Cooper and Ryan De Vries for Ronan Murray and Jesse Devers respectively with 20 minutes left. A minute later, Junior went for an audacious overhead kick from a tantalising cross but was unable to connect. Jesse Devers then had a chance with a cutback but it couldn’t reach anyone. From then, it became attack versus defence as Waterford continued to drop deeper and deeper. Unfortunately for us, we couldn’t find a way to pierce Waterford’s low block. Darragh Noone came on after 84 minutes for Junior, but he didn’t have time to influence the game in any significant manner. Ultimately, we lacked pace in transition to really threaten Waterford.

Teams

ROVERS: E McGinty; L Banks, G Buckley, K McFadden, R Donelon; D Cawley, N Morahan; J Ogedi-Uzokwe (D Noone 84), R De Vries (J Devers 70), A Cooper (R Murray 70); R Coughlan

WATERFORD: B Murphy; T Sobowale, J Davidson, R McCourt, T Wilson; R Weir, N O’Keefe (S Griffin 74); W Fitzgerald (W Longbottom 83), J Martin (K Byrne 72), A Coote; M Smith..

Ref: Sean Grant

Rovers Ratings

Ed McGinty: 6 – Distribution and sweeping was good. Nothing he could’ve done for goal.

Lewis Banks: 5 – Didn’t offer enough going forward on the overlap.

Garry Buckley: 6 – Lost Smith for goal but a solid performance otherwise.

Kyle Callan-McFadden: 6 – Led well from the back.

Regan Donelon: 7 – Operated well with Cooper down the left.

Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe: 6 – Didn’t get the ball enough to make a huge difference. Taken off after 84 minutes.

David Cawley: 8 – A good performance from our midfield dynamo. Was everywhere on the pitch, nearly getting a goal/assist before half time.

Niall Morahan: 6 – Wasn’t progressive enough to hit Waterford where we needed to hit them.

Alex Cooper: 7 – The left side was a happy hunting ground for both Cooper and Donelon. Cooper nearly got a goal after 23 minutes after Sobowale’s slip. Deserved a rest after 70 hard minutes.

Ronan Coughlan: 6 – Was isolated up top at times. Tested Murphy well at the start of the second half.

Ryan De Vries: 5 – Didn’t show for the ball, and when he did, was unable to hurt Waterford. He’ll be disappointed with his performance. Subbed after 70 minutes.

Jesse Devers: 6 – Did well when he came on, combining well on the left side.

Ronan Murray: 6 – Was hungry for the ball and performed well.

Darragh Noone: N/A – Didn’t get enough time to make an impact.