Shamrock Rovers put Longford Town to the sword in a pre-season friendly at Tallaght Stadium on Tuesday night as Aaron Greene celebrated his first outing for the Hoops with two second half goals.
Greene was lively from the start, causing the Longford defence all manner of problems as he tested the water on either side of his more central strike partner, Gary Twigg. Killian Brennan chipped just over the Longford bar on seven minutes and four minutes later Greene combined with Gary McCabe on the left to provide Twigg with a half chance.
On the 20 minute mark Greene again centred for Twigg, this time from the right, but Noel Haverty’s astute block denied the Scotsman. Twigg had another effort saved by Paul Hunt on 22 minutes but the pressure was beginning to tell and two minutes later Rovers were ahead.
McCabe got in behind full back Colm James and found Twigg in far too much space inside the Longford area. Longford ‘keeper, Paul Hunt, was left utterly exposed and Twigg’s powerful drive was never going to end up anywhere but the back of the net.
Longford, meanwhile, struggled to create chances. Early on, Daniel Purdy blasted over from a tight angle on the right but it was not until Austin Skelly replaced striker Karl Bermingham, half an hour in, that the Midlanders caused any real problems.
Excellent play from Skelly engineered a break down the right through Purdy on 40 minutes and his low, curling cross was diverted only inches wide of his own goal as Craig Sives just about cleared the danger.
The second half began scrappily but Rovers extended their lead when Aaron Greene took advantage of a breakthrough on the left and skipped around Hunt to slip the ball into an empty net.
The next nine minutes proved decisive and any hope Longford may have had of redressing the two goal imbalance were scuppered by a mixture of defensive error and misfortune.
On 58 minutes Graham Dowling attempted to send a back pass towards Hunt but, under pressure, his ball was ill directed. Hunt rushed out to rescue the situation but totally misread the run of the ball, leaving his goal unprotected as the ball rolled past him to the waiting Greene. Just ten yards out, Greene side-footed home for the simplest goal he will score all year.
Two minutes later and Hunt’s misery was compounded. Having parried Greene’s 20 yard effort up into the air, he followed back underneath the ball as it dropped towards his goal. Tragically for Hunt, it clipped off the crossbar before bouncing off the retreating keeper and into the net.
Austin Skelly should have pulled one back for Longford on 70 minutes when a Jacques Morley corner landed at the striker’s feet no more then three yards out, but he somehow contrived to put the ball over the Rovers bar.
Multiple substitutions then served to unsettle a game that had never quite caught alight in the first place and the final 20 minutes saw a number of half chances come and go for both sides. In the end, 4-0 slightly flattered the Hoops, but Longford will worry more about the nature of the goals conceded than the scoreline itself.
Shamrock Rovers: Oscar Jannson; Kerea Gilbert, Craig Sives, Colin Hawkins (Ronan Finn, 73), Conor Powell (Sean Gannon, 46); Gary McCabe (Daryl Kavanagh, 65), Stephen O’Donnell, Chris Turner (Stephen Rice, 53), Killian Brennan; Gary Twigg (Billy Dennehy, 73), Aaron Greene (Brendan King, 78).
Subs not used: Conor Winn, Dean Ebbe.
Longford Town: Paul Hunt (Craig Hyland, 70); Colm James (Dean Cosgrave, 83), Graham Dowling, Noel Haverty, Gary Cronin; Thomas Crawley (Jacques Morley, 53), Alan Kirby (Jamie Duffy, 62), Keith Gillespie (James O’Brien, 65), Mark Salmon, Daniel Purdy (Sean Skelly, 62); Karl Bermingham (Austin Skelly, 31).
Subs not used: None.
Referee: Declan Heney. (Not Declan Hanney)
Attendance: 700 (estimate).
extratime.ie Man of the Match: Aaron Greene.
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