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.
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
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.