Ruthless Rovers book FAI Cup spot

A professional and controlling performance from Shamrock Rovers helped the Tallaght side get the better of arch rivals Bohemians 2-0 in the FAI Cup Semi-Final in Dalymount Park on Friday.

The two sides, who have sat second and third in the league respectively for the majority of the season, served up a highly entertaining contest in front of a sold out crowd in Phibsborough. Rovers, who’s recent record against their bitter rivals has left a bit to be desired, will be thrilled to have won their biggest game of the season and to advance to their first Cup Final in ten years.

Rovers started the game confidently and took the lead in the fifth minute courtesy of a Graham Burke header. The home side were shaky to begin with, but after conceding that early goal, gradually got back into the game. Despite a fair amount of the ball though, they struggled to create many clear cut opportunities against a Rovers defence that looked in superb form and cohesion with each other. With Roberto Lopes nullifying the big threat of Andre Wright and Gary O’Neill playing a masterful man to man defence of Daniel Mandriou, the Bohemians’ creative outlets were stifled. 

That being said, for the remainder of the first half, Rovers didn’t create too much themselves in a high tempo affair, where crunching tackles and high tension was at its highest ebb. Rovers would have been happy going into the break with an advantage, but would have been naive to think that Bohs would not raise a massive effort in the second half, with the home crowd getting behind every kick. 

The expected siege on the Rovers goal came in the first fifteen minutes of the second half, with Rovers becoming clumsy on the ball and came under heavy pressure. However, Bohs failed to create anything meaningful, with a long range stab from Mandriou the best they could muster up. And it was at around the hour mark, where Rovers stamped their class and professionalism on the game.

The final thirty minutes of the game must have been pleasant viewing for Rovers manager, Stephen Bradley, as his side began to control the ball a lot better, and began to create opportunities at will. The Bohs team were becoming more and more frustrated, with time slipping away in the game. It was the 76th minute when that frustration got the better of Mandriou, who produced a nasty stamp of Sean Kavanagh’s leg and was sent off without hesitation. Four minutes later and Rovers put the last nail in Bohemian’s coffin, when Aaron Greene was on hand to convert from a Ronan Finn cross, after a brilliant piece of play from the Hoops down the right hand side. 

The last ten minutes failed to create any drama, with ten man Bohs not able to galvanise another big effort to push the game all the way. It was a win that would have been of immense satisfaction for Stephen Bradley, who will manage Rovers in their first final since their 2010 final defeat to Sligo. 

The FAI Cup Final is due to take place on the 3rd of November at the Aviva Stadium with Shamrock Rovers facing Dundalk, who won their semi-final against Sligo Rovers 1-0.

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