League Report: Sligo Rovers 0 - 1 Shelbourne

Shelbourne boss Damien Duff

Shelbourne boss Damien Duff Credit: Martin Doherty (ETPhotos)

Shelbourne capitalised on their crucial win over defending champions Shamrock Rovers last week by securing another three points having frustrated home side Sligo Rovers at The Showgrounds with a narrow 1-0 victory.

John O’Sullivan’s quick thinking header on foot of a Sean Gannon piledrive would prove to be enough for Damien Duff’s men to leave the Bit O’Red with two points from a possible nine in their opening three games of the season.

Despite the adverse weather conditions that blitzed a blanket of snow over the East of the country, leading to the postponement of four League of Ireland games and a myriad of bus cancellations, a respectable contingent of away fans braved the baltic conditions and reached the Gateway City in time for the 7:45pm kick-off.

And they were heard, battering the Drums of Drumcondra with fervour in a bid to keep warm, chanting passionately in between beats, as Damien Duff looked keenly on, his selection of eleven kitted out in their striking new away kit of navy and yellow.

Sligo Rovers, opting for a four four two formation, showed real urgency in the opening minutes, determined to reward their fans with three points and secured the first two corners of the game.

Conor Kearns would mark his territory within the six yard box, stifling the second set piece with an air of swag.

Rovers dominated possession in spells, 23-year-old talent Niall Morahan carving open spaces in the centre of the park, engaging in impressive link up play with forward while winger Simon Power was lively on the right flank.

A sequence of dangerous balls would follow throughout the first half, Paddy Barrett and Sean Gannon a force to be reckoned with for manager Duff, the duo snuffing out the home sides chances at one end, before sprinting to the other in an effort to support the The Reds attack.

John Russell’s men’s failure to deliver the killer blow in the final third frustrated the home side and instilled further confidence in their opponents.

Shelbourne to their credit did not always have their backs to goal, creating a number of lukewarm chances.

The most notable of which included a shot from Will Jarvis following a majestic pass over the top from Gannon to the left flank and a darting run by Captain Mark Coyle who covered every blade of grass in the opening forty-five and beyond.

The floodlights at The Showgrounds flickered ominously as the minutes of the first half ticked by, a sign perhaps of the blow that was to come.

With a set piece straight from the training ground, Gannon pounced with a one touch strike, which deflected to the head of John O’Sullivan whose quick reflexes would result in first blood being drawn by the visitors.

Credit to Rovers, who, only momentarily stunned, upped the ante for the remainder of the first half, trickery inside the left of the 18 yard box by Reece Hutchinson opening up a chance for Wilson Waweru, who beat Kearns in what at first appeared to be rendered a fair challenge by officials, heading the ball over the white line.

The home fans' cheers were short lived however, with referee Declan Toland made the unpopular call to disallow the goal, given the contact made by the striker on the Shel’s keeper.

In the second-half, Rovers continued to possess the ball in the centre and on the flanks, yet failed to land that crucial final touch when the ball sailed into the six yard box

Nando Pijnaker, pirouetted mid air in frustration after he was penalised for pressuring the Shels backline.

The talented Kiwi would later cup the ball with his chest at the edge of the Shelbourne box and skim a shot harmlessly to the right of the visitors goal.

Shrewsbury town loanee Max Mata too came close to squaring the fixture with a glancing header while a quick thinking volley from Reece Hutchinson failed to trouble Kearns.

Jarvis could have put the game to bed for The Reds when a visionary ball from the versatile Evan Caffrey gave him the opportunity to shoot with the outside of his boot, but it was not to be the York natives' night.

Rovers came closest to levelling the game in the dying minutes of extra time, when a deceiving ball by Will Fitzgerald forced Kearns to engage in gymnastics, stretching to parry and claim the ball.

Full-time and the Tolka Park faithful continue to dream on their way back to the capital.


Sligo Rovers: Edward McGinty; Ellis Chapman (William Fitzgerald 90), Ollie Denham, Reece Hutchinson, Charlie Wiggett, Nando Zen Pijnaker; Connor Malley, Niall Morahan, Simon Power (Owen Elding 90); Max Mata, Wilson Waweru (Fabrice Hartmann 60).

Subs not used: Richard Brush, Kyle McDonagh, Conor Reynolds, Kailin Barlow, Daire Patton, Stefan Radosavljević.

Booked: Charlie Wiggett (26), Nando Zen Pijnaker (53).


Shelbourne: Conor Kearns; Patrick Barrett, Sean Gannon, Gavin Molloy, Tyreke Wilson; Mark Coyle, Jonathan Lunney, John O'Sullivan (Kameron Ledwidge 46); William Jarvis (Shane Farrell 82), Matthew Smith (John Martin 61), Liam Burt (Evan Caffrey 61).

Subs not used: Lorcan Healy, Lewis Temple, Jad Hakiki, Keith Ward, Dean Williams.

Booked: Matthew Smith (22), John O'Sullivan (45).


Referee: Declan Toland.

Attendance: 3087.

extratime.com Player of the Match: Conor Kearns (Shelbourne).