Homepage image courtesy of Peter Fitzpatrick
Shamrock Rovers demolished a very poor Dundalk at Tallaght Stadium on Friday night with Gary McCabe and Gary Twigg both scoring twice in a second half that the Louth side will want to forget.
The game began as it went on, with the home side in control and creating the only real moments of danger. Fullback Conor Powell was the first to provide a threat, delivering two early crosses into the Dundalk box, the second of which Ciaran Kilduff met with a first time effort that whistled narrowly wide of Peter Cherrie’s goal.
Gary McCabe then picked up Kilduff’s flick on and forced Cherrie into a smart low save from close range. But after Michael Rafter had sent a snap shot over the home side’s crossbar on 11 minutes the game died for a period and Dundalk looked to have gained a foothold in the contest.
The sense of parity didn’t last long and shortly after Kilduff had stung the palms of Cherrie with a shot from the edge of the box, Ronan Finn put Rovers ahead. A corner from the right was only half cleared and, picking the ball up just outside the area, Finn sent a superb shot back across goal and into the bottom left corner of the net.
Three minutes later the Hoops were two up when Ken Oman, unchallenged, met Killian Brennan’s free kick and tipped the ball over the line from point blank range. It was a shocking goal to give away and things would get worse for Darius Kieran’s men before half time.
Two minutes into added time Gary McCabe played Finn through Dundalk’s porous defence and the midfielder's centre was swept home by Kilduff from six yards.
The second half offered no respite for the Louth side and after fourteen minutes of pressure Rovers added their fourth of the evening when John Mountney handled inside the area and McCabe sent a perfectly judged penalty into the botom right hand corner of the goal.
Seven minutes later McCabe was offered a second spot kick after Paul Whelan’s foul on Kilduff. He took it gratefully, sending an equally confident effort to the opposite corner to put the Hoops five goals up.
Rovers top-scorer, Gary Twigg, had yet to join the party, knocking a shot wide when excellently placed on 64 minutes, but he put that right with twenty minutes remaining. it came via a horrendous back-pass from substitute Stephen McDonnell, Twigg taking the gift and shooting home off the inside of Cherrie’s left hand post.
One minute later Twigg added his second and Rovers’ seventh, running onto Finn’s superb through ball and shooting powerfully into the roof of the Dundalk net.
The win will have provided a welcome tonic for the Hoops’ support who have so far endured a most difficult season. It also delivered Brian Laws his first league points in his new post and kept Sligo Rovers within mathematical reach, for the moment at least.
Shamrock Rovers: Oscar Jansson; Sean Gannon, Craig Sives (Aaron Greene 68), Colin Hawkins (Ken Oman 21), Conor Powell; Gary McCabe (Billy Dennehy 82), Ronan Finn, Stephen Rice, Killian Brennan; Ciaran Kilduff, Gary Twigg.
Subs not used: Reyaad Pieterse, Shane O’Connor, Stephen O’Donnell, Thomas Stewart.
Booked: Twigg (70).
Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; John Mountney, Paul Whelan, Liam Burns, Eoghan Osborne; Paul Walsh, Stephen Maher, Chris Shields, Mark O’Brien (Barry Conlon 64), Nathan Murphy (Stephen McDonnell 64); Michael Rafter (Bob McKenna 79).
Subs not used: Conor McDonnell, Robbie Gaul, Gary Shanahan, William Woods.
Booked: O'Brien (29), Maher (36), Mountney (58), Whelan (65).
Referee: Damien Hancock.
Attendance: 1,200 (estimate).
Extratime Man of the Match: Ronan Finn (Shamrock Rovers).
Simon O'Gorman began reporting for Extratime in 2010. He remembers Milltown and Flower Lodge and, back in the mists of time, saw Diego Maradona play at Lansdowne Road. He now lives in Co Kildare and reports on Shamrock Rovers among others. Simon can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org