Shamrock Rovers 4-0 Dundalk
Dundalk suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of Shamrock Rovers on Sunday afternoon when Ian Foster’s depleted line-up finally paid the penalty for their heavy schedule in recent weeks. Dundalk were without the injured Peter Cherrie and Liam Burns while Garry Breen and Fahrudin Kuduzovic were suspended. Dundalk, while having a few chances in the early part of the game, never hit their stride and Rovers were able to record a comfortable victory.
While Shamrock Rovers started brightly it was Dundalk who nearly broke the deadlock. Ross Gaynor’s free kick from the edge of the area struck Alan Mannus’ crossbar. Soon afterwards Matt Gregg made the first of his early saves when he superbly saved from Sive’s volley. After 16 minutes Rovers hitman Gary Twigg broke clear of the Dundalk defence but again Gregg advanced off his line to make another great save.
Dundalk then forced Rovers on the back foot with three corners in quick succession. However, Wayne Hatswell came to Dundalk’s rescue after 22 minutes when Paddy Kavanagh cut the defence open for Twigg who beat Gregg only for Hatswell to clear off the line before Turner could apply the finishing touch. Hatswell again had to be sharp to deny James Chambers after the Rovers man evaded Nathan Murphy’s challenge in the box.
However, poor defending lead to Rovers taking the lead after 29 minutes. James Chambers was given far too much time and space to blast the ball past Gregg from 12 yards with a great finish. Dundalk nearly responded within a minute when Alan Cawley’s free-kick went inches wide of Manus’ near post. Chris Turner then came close for Rovers when his shot from long range went wide.
Rovers went 2-0 up after 35 minutes when Gregg missed a corner and the ball appeared to go in off a Dundalk player although Twigg was credited with the goal by the Rovers PA announcer. It got even worse for Dundalk when Rovers won the ball straight from Dundalk’s kick-off and Twigg was put straight through on Gregg to make it 3-0 with an expert finish.
Sives forced Twigg to tip over his bar after 39 minutes with Dundalk looking shellshocked. After 41 minutes Thomas Stewart broke free and beat Gregg to the ball on the edge of the box but Stewart was unable to finish from a tight angle. Tiarnan Mulvenna had a half-chance when his overhead kick was easily saved by Manus. Shamrock Rovers were not finished however and Matt Gregg made a great save from Dan Murray’s header from Chamber’s free-kick.
Dundalk made a change at half-time with Nathan Murphy, who appeared to be limping throughout the first half, was replaced by Ciaran McGuigan. Rovers did not settle on their laurels and quickly set about extending their lead. Paddy Kavanagh tested Gregg with a low effort after 48 minutes that the keeper did well to hold. Gregg again had to do well to save Stewart’s close range header and smothering the ball before Kavanagh could capitalise.
Eventually, the Rovers pressure told again after 58 minutes. With everybody expecting a cross, James Chambers smashed in a shot for a brilliantly executed goal.
Dundalk came close to pulling one back after 76 minutes when Gaynor’s free-kick was headed towards his own-goal by Dan Murray but Mannus made a great save to prevent the own-goal. Stephen Maher also tried his luck from distance but his shot was narrowly off-target. With seven minutes remaining Gaynor’s direct free-kick was saved at the second attempt by Mannus. Dundalk should have scored moments later when Stephen Maher blasted over the bar from a good position inside the penalty area.
Shamrock Rovers: Mannus, Murray, Price, Sives, Stevens, Chambers, Kavanagh, Rice, Turner, Stewart, Twigg. Subs: O’Connor for Kavanagh, Barratt for Twigg, Bayley for Rice.
Dundalk: Gregg, Kelly, Murphy, Miller, Hatswell, Cawley, McDonnell, Maher, Gaynor, Fenn, Mulvenna. Sub: McGuigan for Murphy, McGowan for Mulvenna.