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Shamrock Rovers 3 – 1 Monaghan United (match report)

http://extratime.ie/newsdesk/articles/7576/

Shamrock Rovers were made to work hard for their victory in Tallaght on Friday night, trailing at half time to Willo McDonagh’s early goal for Monaghan United. However, three second half goals from Killian Brennan, Billy Dennehy and Aaron Green were the difference on the night for the league champions.

Monaghan manager Roddy Collins, on his return to face his former side, won’t have been too happy with his team’s second half performance where they were not helped by the
fact that they played the last twenty minutes with ten men.

The champions flag had barely been raised at Tallaght Stadium, with it being the first home league game of the season, before the Hoops were 1-0 down in the game. After just three minutes Monaghan United won a free kick which was floated in by Darragh Reynor. Willo McDonagh, the former Shamrock Rovers player, got on the end of it and his flicked
backwards header found the top left corner of the net for the opening goal.

Monaghan didn’t just sit back on their lead and threatened the Rovers goal sporadically during the first half. Owen Humphreys played most of the half pushed right onto the Rovers right back Kerrea Gilbert, which created a hole in the middle for Monaghan’s midfield runners to try and exploit. This tactic went someway to preventing Gilbert going on the offensive. Gilbert was able to link up with Killian Brennan occasionally down the right wing but there wasn’t enough end product for strikers Gary O’Neill and Gary Twigg to capitalise on.

As early as the 18th minute, there was a Monaghan booking due to a spot of time wasting. Mons ‘keeper Chris Bennion stepped away from a free kick well outside his area to allow Darragh Reynor to take it but referee George Kelly ran out of patience and produced the yellow card for Reynor when maybe it was Bennion that should have been booked. It was a decision would have an influence on proceedings later in the game.

Monaghan forced the Rovers defence into conceding a number of first half corners with Craig Sives and Conor Powell having to clear their lines. However, poor deliveries meant United couldn’t add to their first half lead.

On the half hour mark Rovers had two great chances to get the equaliser. Killian Brennan’s shot seemed destined for the top left hand corner of the goal but the midfielder’s effort was pushed around the post by the head of Alan Byrne. The Monaghan captain then almost turned villain straight afterwards as his slip presented the ball at Gary Twigg’s lethal feet. However, Twigg’s curling left foot shot flew just by the left hand post for a goal kick.

Monaghan’s Tony Griffiths had the first chance of the second half but his tame shot on 47 minutes was gathered by Oscar Jannson in the Rovers goal before Stephen Kenny’s men came very close to scoring a minute later. Billy Dennehy won a corner off Stephen Maher and, as Killian Brennan swung it in, Craig Sives downwards header was cleared off the line by Maher.

It was from the next corner on 55 minutes though that Rovers got the equaliser. Billy Dennehy swung the ball in towards Brennan who was running away from goal. To the delight of the home fans his back heeled volley found the back of the net.

On 64 minutes Rovers were in front. After a nice passing move, Stephen Rice fed Dennehy the ball 25 yards from goal. The Kerryman took a touch and then let fly with a stunning strike to find the top left hand corner of the goal. Now behind in the game, Monaghan soon found themselves reduced to ten men. Reynor went in with a heavy challenge on Stephen Rice and received his second card from referee Graham Kelly and was off.

Ronan Finn really should have scored for the home side after 75 minutes when Twigg played him in on goal. However, Bennion was able to save Finn’s low shot with his feet. Rovers then began to exploit the space available to them due to the sending off. Another fine passing move came to Billy Dennehy on the wing and his cross was met by Brennan, but the cross bar prevented Rovers getting a third at that time.

Twigg next went close following a build up involving Turner and O’Neill but the Scotsman couldn’t keep his shot down. Aaron Green, a late second half substitute, wrapped it up
for the Hoops in injury time, getting on the end of Gary McCabe’s through ball to make it 3-1 with virtually the last kick of game.

Shamrock Rovers: Oscar Jansson; Kerrea Gilbert (Chris Turner, 68), Ken Oman (c), Craig Sives, Conor Powell; Billy Dennehy, Stephen Rice, Ronan Finn, Killian Brennan (Gary McCabe, 87); Gary Twigg, Gary O’Neill (Aaron Greene, 85).
Subs not used: Lee Steacy (GK), Graham Gartland, Stephen O’Donnell, Daryl Kavanagh.
Bookings: Powell (52), Dennehy (66).

Monaghan United: Chris Bennion; Stephen Maher, Conor McMahon, Alan Byrne (c), Darragh Reynor; Michael Isichei (Conor Murphy, 60), Willo McDonagh, Keith Quinn, Jordan Keegan; Tony Griffiths (Jason Marks, 65), Owen Humphrey (Daniel McGuinness, 46).
Subs not used: Michael Schlingermann (GK), Roddy Collins, Bobby Ryan, Shane Dunne.
Bookings: Reynor (19), Willo McDonagh (40), Keith Quinn (65).
Sendings Off: Reynor (71)

Referee: Graham Kelly
Attendance: 3,100
Extratime.ie man of the match: Killian Brennan

Shamrock Rovers -v- Monaghan United preview

http://extratime.ie/newsdesk/articles/7562/

Published: March 08, 2012

SHAMROCK ROVERS:
Stephen Kenny has utilised his Shamrock Rovers squad extensively already this season. After Rovers’ 2-1 win in Drogheda on the opening night of the Airtricity League, Kenny made seven changes to that line-up in their 2-0 win earlier this week against Cliftonville in the Setanta Sports Cup.

Against Monaghan United this Friday, the starting eleven will likely see the return of Killian Brennan, who missed the Cliftonville game due to suspension, and Gary Twigg, who scored both of Rovers’ goals in that league win over Drogheda United. It is also the chance for new Shamrock Rovers club captain Ken Oman to pull on the armband for the Hoops for the first time in a league game at Tallaght Stadium. Definitely missing for Rovers will be Ciarán Kilduff, Conor McCormack and Conor Winn who are all out due to injury.

It would be a shock if Stephen Kenny’s men failed to pick up their second win of the league campaign but the Rovers manager has been stressing the importance to his players that they need to earn the win against Monaghan. “Every single victory this season will be hard fought,” said Kenny. “I think the idea that you might have easy games is naïve. You have to fight for every single point you put on the board in a season, and our players are more than aware of that; they know they have to work hard every week.”

“We can’t drop our standards for anyone or we will get turned over, that is the same as it is for any team. This is our first home game of the season, and we will be looking for a win from that. From our point of view, we’ll have gotten our season off to a strong start if we get three wins from three in a week.”

MONAGHAN UNITED:
Monaghan United, who opened their league campaign with a 0-0 draw at home to Dundalk, face a tough first away game of the season against the back-to-back league champions. Manager Roddy Collins has a much changed squad from the one who were promoted last season. Collins handed six competitive debuts in their hard fought draw on opening night. However, defensively they have continuity in their team with three of last year’s back four (Aidan Collins, Conor McMahon and Alan Byrne) playing in front of new goalkeeper Chris Bennion. If United can keep another clean sheet this week, they would head back to Monaghan quite happy with that outcome.

For Roddy Collins, it is a return to Rovers, a club he managed back in 2005. Collins was relieved of his managerial duties towards the end of that season, a season that Rovers ended by being relegated for the only time in their history. Willo McDonagh is also returning to Rovers where he played under Collins’ management. Both the manager and player may be in for an unfriendly reception in Tallaght as McDonagh’s disciplinary record and Collins’ managerial record are not remembered fondly by the Hoops faithful.

Monaghan may well have to do without another former Rovers player Robert Bayly due to injury. There are also injury concerns over Aidan Collins, Gareth O’Connor and Shaun Maher but they do have the boost of midfielder Keith Quinn being available for selection this week.

Referee: Graham Kelly

MATCH STATS:
The teams last met in a pre-season friendly at Tallaght Stadium in 2011 which ended in a 0-0 draw.

Their last competitive meeting was in 2006 when both sides were in the First Division. Back then Rovers’ 2-0 win over United in their penultimate home game of the season went a long way to securing that year’s First Division title for the Hoops.

It is ten years since the teams played each other in the Premier Division when Stephen Grant got an 86th minute winner in a 3-2 win for Shamrock Rovers.

BETTING:
Shamrock Rovers 1/5; Draw 5/1; Monaghan 11/1

PREDICTION:
Hard to see beyond a home win for the Hoops: 3-0 to Shamrock Rovers.

Shamrock Rovers Injury News: Ciarán Kilduff (broken metatarsal), Conor McCormack (ankle ligament injury), Conor Winn (back).
Shamrock Rovers Suspensions: None
Monaghan United Injury News: Robert Bayly, Aidan Collins Gareth O Connor, Shaun Maher (all doubtful)
Monaghan United Suspensions: None

Flancare Park faithful dream of return to topflight football

February 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Longford Town Season 2012 preview for extratime.ie

http://extratime.ie/newsdesk/articles/7466/longford-town-preview-2012/

Last season: Sixth (First Division)

In: Noel Haverty (St. Patrick’s Athletic), Karl Bermingham (Shelbourne), Craig Hyland (Shamrock Rovers), Gary Shaw (Bray Wanderers), Colm James (Shelbourne), Alan Kirby (Sligo Rovers)

Out: Jean Biansumba (Released), Thomas Hyland (Released), Alvin Rouse (Released), Darragh Satelle (Released)

Manager: Tony Cousins

Stadium: Flancare Park

The landscape in this season’s First Division is very different from last year. Longford Town will be hoping that they can capitalise on these changes in their bid for promotion. With former First Division heavyweights like Shelbourne and Cork City, along with Monaghan United, now in the Premier Division, and only seven other teams in the league, Longford are expected to be challenging at the top of the, admittedly small, table.

However, Limerick FC are the odds on favourites for the one available automatic promotion spot following some eye catching signings including former Irish international Dominic Foley. Meanwhile, Longford also have their own international player in their squad with Keith Gillespie, capped 86 times for the North, signed up for another season. Whilst top spot may be beyond Tony Cousins’ Longford side, a finish in second or third spot will give them a shot in the promotion/relegation playoffs, most likely alongside Waterford United.

Most of last season’s squad has been re-signed and Cousins has also made some good acquisitions for ‘The Town’ during the close season. Longford fans are delighted that the experienced Alan Kirby, signed from Sligo Rovers, has returned to the club where he won two FAI Cups earlier in his career. Longford’s success could well depend on Kirby and Gillespie building a good midfield partnership with expectations high for both players.

Cousins has added further experience with former Shelbourne player Colm James coming in from Shelbourne, like Kirby, for his second spell at the club. Texas born Jamie Duffy, winner of the First Division title with both Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk, has signed from Newry City adding to the creativity in midfield on the pitch and the vocal talent off the pitch (Duffy is a member of boy band ‘Boulevard’!).

Cousins has signed strikers Gary Shaw and Karl Bermingham who scored over 25 league goals in the First Division during two seasons with Monaghan. This should help overcome their goalscoring problems from last season when they could only score 38 goals in 30 league games with their top goalscorer coming from midfield as Mark Salmon got 10 goals.

The pieces are all there for Cousins to build on and there would be real disappointment if his team didn’t make the playoffs at least. The Flancare Park faithful are dreaming of a return to topflight football with Longford beginning the campaign away in Fahy’s Field against Mervue United.

Rovers mixed artistry yields octagon result

February 25, 2012 Leave a comment

My debut match report for extra time.ie

http://extratime.ie/fixtures/detail/18084/2/

Shamrock Rovers 8 – 1 Waterford United
by Macdara Ferris
Fri, Feb 24 2012

Shamrock Rovers had a more than convincing win over Waterford United at Tallaght Stadium on Friday night in their final friendly before the start of the league campaign. It finished 8-1 on the night for Stephen Kenny’s men with Gary O’Neill hitting a hat-trick for the Hoops. It was a confidence sapping result for Paul O’Brien’s men who are expected to be challenging for promotion out of the First Division.

It was an even opening period to the game that didn’t give a hint of the dominance that would follow later. Craig Sives was unlucky not to open the scoring after 12 minutes when his header from around the penalty spot shaved the post from a Billy Dennehy cross.

The opening goal of the game came after 14 minutes for the champions from a deep Killian Brennan corner. The corner was sent back across the box by the head of defender Dylan Mernagh. The ball found its way to Ken Oman who had an acre of space in front of goal to slot the ball home low into the net. Waterford’s first chance of the game came from the kick off but Ben Ryan’s shot didn’t trouble Oscar Jannson in goal as it flew over the bar.

Rovers doubled their lead on 26 minutes with a fine individual effort from Daryl Kavanagh. He picked up the ball in midfield and ghosted by two players and with great vision chipped the ball over Robbie Hughes into the top corner from all of 25 yards.

Photo by George Kelly

Brennan was fouled in a dangerous position in front of goal on 33 minutes. Dennehy struck the free with his left into the bottom corner to make it 3-0. The Blues pulled a goal back straight away as Jannson misread the flight of Paul Phelan’s corner allowing United skipper David Breen to head home. Just before half time, Ronan Finn found the net for the fourth with a fine flicked header from a Kerrea Gilbert cross.

United went close early in the second half as Gary Dempsey’s free was headed over by Seamus Long. A Sives chance went close before Rovers added three goals in a devastating five-minute spell before the hour mark. An O’Neill header at the backpost from substitute Aaron Green’s cross made it five for the Hoops.

Rovers then had half a dozen goals when Finn made a probing run down the right with his ball handing O’Neill the simplest of tap ins from inside the six yard box. Substitute Gary McCabe scored next following a mazy run. He beat Paul Carey on the left, cut inside and slammed the ball high into the roof of the net to make it 7-1 on the hour mark. Waterford did have a chance to get their second on 65 minutes when sub Seany Maguire played in Darragh Walshe but Jannson was on hand to save his shot.

Photo by George Kelly

Greene had a couple of chances to increase his sides tally. First when he ran in on goal but was forced wide by Hughes and his subsequent shot went over the bar. Next he claimed a long ball over the top but his left foot shot bounced back off the post.

The home side continued to pile on the misery with United going 8-1 down. Six minutes from time Gary O’Neill completed his hat-trick and the overall goal scoring for the evening. Breene bundled into the back of O’Neill in the box. At the infamous car park end of Tallaght Stadium, O’Neill managed to do what very few players have done there and scored from the penalty spot. The last bit of play saw Dempsey chip the ball over the Rovers defence onto sub Seany Maguire’s chest but Jannson was able to smother the ball at the player’s feet.

Stephen Kenny will no doubt be happy with the performance of his side and he used that squad to the fullest extent with eight second half substitutions. Blues boss O’Brien will have to pick up his men after this dispiriting result. He will be emphasising that the quality of opposition will not be as strong for United in the First Division as they faced from the back-to-back League of Irelands champions in Tallaght. Waterford will be thankful for that.

Shamrock Rovers: Oscar Jannson; Kerrea Gilbert (Sean Gannon, 65), Craig Sives (Graham Gartland, 65), Ken Oman (Colin Hawkins, 84), Conor Powell (Conor McCormack, 84); Killian Brennan, Stephen Rice (Stephen O’Donnell 65), Ronan Finn (Chris Turner, 72), Billy Dennehy (Gary McCabe 45); Gary O’Neill, Daryl Kavanagh (Aaron Greene, 45)
Subs not used: Lee Stacey

Waterford United: Robbie Hughes; Paul Carey (Thomas Whitty, 89), Craig Burns (Seany Maguire, 65), David Breen, Dylan Mernagh; Ben Ryan (Peter Keegan, 72), Gary Dunphy (Peter Higgins), Seamus Long, Paul Phelan; Gary Dempsey, Darragh Walshe (Nathan West)

Subs not used: Packie Holden
Bookings: Ben Ryan

Referee: Tom Connolly

Attendance: 1000 (estimate)

extratime.ie Man of the Match: Gary O’Neill who, in addition to scoring a hat-trick, was very effective in holding the ball up and involving other Rovers players