It’s been a long time coming, but the Shamrock faithful were finally able to savor a victory over neighborhood rivals Irish Rovers on Sunday. On a rainy afternoon in Downing Stadium, the progress made in the last few seasons was never better illustrated than in the annual "friendly."
New Rovers coach Mark Hopper remained upbeat despite the defeat as he cited the loss of key players as a big factor in the defeat. On a holiday weekend, though, players will be unavailable and in truth the Shamrocks weren’t at 100 percent, either, but then there’s no need for excuses when you emerge victorious.
Two goals in as many minutes won the day for the Rocks. Austin Welsh found John Guildea sneaking through on 20 minutes. The ex-coach sensed that the keeper was off his line and he looped a header over him to make it 1-0. The busy Shane Martin then won a ball he had no real right to win, in the 6-yard box and, such was his impetus, that his block had enough power to find the net. The Shamrocks went in two to the good at the break.
The home team seemed to relax a little on the lead in the second period as the Rovers came forward in search of something. The Shamrock defense held firm, though, and the Rovers’ prolific striker got little change from skipper Robbie Walsh. Terry Lawless had a fine game in his new role at right-back and the left side was covered well by his nephews Aiden and Austin Welsh.
In the final minute the Rovers did get one back when Niall Coogan scored, but it was a case of too little too late and the Rocks held on for bragging rights. It would be difficult to pick a Man of the Match, but Billy Henderson for his tireless running and Paudie Moloney for his safe handling on a greasy surface, would definitely come in for consideration.
A goal in each half by Paul McGlynn gave the Rovers something to cheer about as they won the reserve game by 2-0.
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