A goal from James Chambers after 20 minutes was enough for Shamrock Rovers to overcome St Patrick’s Athletic at Richmond Park on Sunday afternoon and so claim their third Cup success of 2013.
When the winning goal came after twenty minutes of play Shamrock Rovers had already established control of a game in which both sides were giving playing time to fringe members of their squads. But with the likes of Eamon Zayed, James Chambers and Billy Dennehy seeing some rare action for the Hoops it was perhaps to be expected that it was the visitors who were playing the more fluent football.
Stephen Rice opened up the Pats defence as early as the fifth minute when he controlled a cross-field ball from Chambers but, having skipped past Sean Hoare, his low ball to the back post was just beyond the reach of Zayed. Two minutes later Dennehy fired a well hit shot inches beyond the same upright.
Peter Durrad, playing as a lone striker for Pats, had an effort deflected over the Rovers bar on ten minutes but it was the Hoops who were looking the more dangerous, creating some elegant passages of passing play.
The breakthrough came just a minute after the introduction of Gary McCabe for the injured Karl Sheppard, and it was McCabe who won a free kick wide on the left which Billy Dennehy duly delivered into the Pats penalty area. Initially knocked away, the ball fell to James Chambers whose powerful contact was deflected past Rene Gilmartin to give the Cup holders a deserved lead.
It was not until the half hour mark that Pats started to put some moves together and, having switched positions with midfielder Sean Gannon, Hoare headed narrowly over the Rovers bar from a Conan Byrne cross.
Sean O’Connor was inches shy of scoring for the Hoops from a free kick just inside the ‘D’ but Pats were coming more into the game and Durrad powered a header from another Conan Byrne cross on target only to see Barry Murphy pull off a fine save.
Greg Bolger saw his effort headed away by David Elebert on 36 minutes and a minute later Murphy tipped Byrne’s missile of a free away from the top left corner of the net. And with four minutes left in the half Murphy again denied Durrad, tipping the striker’s close range volley over the bar after Byrne again supplied the opportunity.
After the break Rovers struggled to recreate the fluency of the opening period. They still had the bulk of possession but Pats looked more comfortable in their covering positions and were more successful in breaking up Rovers’ play in midfield. But on 53 minutes Billy Dennehy picked up a half clearance and, with a volley from 20 yards out, forced Gilmartin into a spectacular tip-over.
Chances remained rare, however, with Rovers studied approach play failing to set their front men free and Pats’ more pacier and direct counter-attacking proving similarly unproductive.
Sean Gannon did well to battle his way through the Rovers cover on 67 minutes but his pass to Durrad met with an uncertain first touch and the hard won opportunity was lost. McCabe, then, almost stole a second for the Hoops when he robbed substitute Shane McFaul on the edge of the Pats area but, clean through, he shot right and wide of Gilmartin’s goal.
Rovers enjoyed occasional spells of pressure, McCabe heading wide at the back post from Chambers’ free on 71 minutes, and Pats sporadically put themselves in semi-threatening positions but neither side managed to open up the game over the final quarter.
With three minutes remaining Chris Forrester was fouled on the edge of the Rovers box and spun the subsequent free kick over the Rovers bar. Then, on the cusp of full-time, a corner from the right led to a scramble in the Rovers area which ended when Lorcan Fitzgerald poked across goal and wide.
Pats came no closer to an equaliser over the three minutes of added time and on the final whistle Rovers claimed their second successive Leinster Senior Cup title and their third Cup win of 2013.
St Patrick’s Athletic: Rene Gilmartin; Sean Hoare, Aidan Price, Kenny Browne, Lorcan Fitzgerald; Conan Byrne (Conor Kenna 72), John Russell (Jake Kelly 63), Greg Bolger (Shane McFaul 46), Sean Gannon, Chris Forrester; Peter Durrad.
Subs not used: Brendan Clarke, Ian Bermingham, Ger O’Brien, Anto Flood.
Booked: Price (30), Hoare (46).
Shamrock Rovers: Barry Murphy; Conor McCormack, David Elebert, Sean Heaney, Danny Ledwith; Sean O’Connor (Ronan Finn 79), Stephen Rice (Cian Kavanagh 85), James Chambers, Billy Dennehy; Eamon Zayed, Karl Sheppard (Gary McCabe 19).
Subs not used: Shane Fagan, Derek Foran, Nathan Brown, Muhanned Bukhatna.
Booked: Dennehy (58), O’Connor (75).
Referee: Ben Connolly.
Attendance: 600 (estimate)
Extratime Man of the Match: James Chambers (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