Owen Heary recorded his first win as Manager of Sligo Rovers at the first attempt on Saturday evening, with a 3-1 win over Shelbourne at the Showgrounds. A superb first-half headed goal from debutant Dinny Corcoran handed Rovers a one goal lead at the break before Shels struck back early in the second half through Mark Sandford. Rovers made eight changes at half-time in a game which saw nine debuts and the return to the Showgrounds of Kevin Devaney. A strong second half showing produced Rovers' second and third goals from the boots of Morten Nielsen and Ruairi Keating as the Showgrounds side got their pre-season campaign off to a winning start.
The home side dominated the early stages on a wintry Sligo night. Estonian trialist Sander Puri tested the Shels goalkeeper in the fifth minute with a shot which was well dealt with by Greg Murray. David Cawley went close on 17 but Murray was again equal to the attempt.
Rovers goalkeeper Richard Brush was called into action for the first time a minute later when he denied Jordan Keegan one-on-one after he latched on to the end of a Conor Earley through ball.
Corcoran went close twice in quick succession on the half hour mark as he continued to give the Shels defence plenty to think about. But the Drumcondra rearguard could do very little about his opener eleven minutes from the break.
Puri broke free of his marker before sending a high ball towards Corcoran from the left. Making his way across the area, Corcoran sent his magnificent glancing header inside the far post, giving Murray absolutely no chance.
The former Bohs man almost had his brace four minutes later, but his low effort met the butt of Murray's post after Corcoran did well to zip past his marker having been played in by Raffaele Cretaro.
Rovers made eight changes at half-time with Ryan Coulter, Stephen Folan, Eoin Wearen and Nielsen appearing for the first time in Rovers shirts. There was also a return in red for Devaney.
Shels began the second half strongly and levelled the game two minutes after the restart as substitute Sandford finished well from close range.
Rovers captured the lead again eleven minutes later however as Folan flicked Devaney's corner towards goal for Nielsen to tap home on his debut.
Nielsen was unlucky not to double Rovers' lead on 62 and 63 as two smart David Ryan saves kept out the former Danish underage international.
Wearen dragged his low drive narrowly wide of Murray's far post on 71, while Keating was unable to get enough power behind his header from a Gary Armstrong cross shortly after.
The Bit O'Red grabbed a third at the death as Devaney's pacey corner was fumbled by Ryan before the ball dropped to young striker Keating who lashed the ball into an empty net.
The result signalled a good start to 2015 for Rovers whose next friendly is on February 13th against Waterford United at the RSC.
Rovers' first half XI: Brush, Boylan, Ledwith, Henderson, Dykes, Cawley, Ward, Cretaro, Beattie, Puri, Corcoran.
Rovers' second half XI: Coulter, Boylan, Ledwith, Peers, Folan, Wearen, McManus, Devaney, Puri, Keating, Nielsen.
Subs: Donelon and Armstrong for Ledwith and Puri (70)
Shels: Murray, Dixon, Osam, O'Connor, R Robinson, Coughlan, Walsh, Doyle, Earley, O'Sullivan, Keegan.