Baraclough dedicates win to Andy Tiernan
Manager Ian Baraclough dedicated Sunday's FAI Ford Cup semi-final win over Shamrock Rovers to the late Andy Tiernan after a moving day in The Showgrounds.
Baraclough's side reached the Cup final after a 3-0 win over Shams thanks to goals from Danny Ventre, Alan Keane and Anthony Elding.
The sad loss of the club's groundsman made it an emotional occasion as the Sligo Rovers players gave Andy a send-off cherished by all.
Baraclough said: "It was important we were at Andy's funeral. It was important we showed the respect that Andy and his family fully deserve. He has been at this football club for 40 years. He gave everything, he gave his life for this football club and I think the players gave him a fitting send off as the whole town has done.
"Everybody realises that people like Andy and the sacrifices he made to make this football club a great football club in Ireland. It was a fitting send off for him because he was a lovely man. I only knew him 18 months and I would have loved to known him for longer. He always had a smile on his face. When I was down he would always have a smile for me and say 'keep going because you are a good man'.
"He would keep people going. People don't see that at times. I got emotional as well because people at this football club and town have become part of my life and special."
Rovers restricted the visitors to just one shot on target in the game, a Karl Sheppard effort which was tipped over by Gary Rogers in the 92nd minute as the record of not conceding a goal in The Showgrounds moved to over 750 minutes.
The Bit o' Red were tenecious, hungry and full of heart as they saw off the Dubliners and Baraclough was thrilled with the players.
The manager added: "Not only did Jeff Henderson keep getting patched up but he had a two inch wound to his head, exactly where he was heading ball. He just wanted to keep heading ball. Danny Ventre went in there and did exactly what Jeff did.
"Wide players, flair players, sacrificed themselves at times to make sure the team were compact. They worked hard and they have got their rewards.
"We had a game plan, we stuck to it mostly, it was keeping things simple, making them do the work.
"We tried to strangle the life out of their flair players which we did and when the times were right to go and attack them, get Kieran Djilali in the holes on pockets, get Raff on the ball, get Greener, get Danny North on the sides and really get at their back four. I thought the lads went and did that."
Rovers' title hopes faded this week with a 0-0 draw with Cork City.
It means the 2012 champions need to win all remaining games and hope teams above in the table drops points if they are to come out on top.
Baraclough revealed his anger at critics and addressed concerns made public in recent times.
He said: "Words would not do justice of how proud I am of the players and the work they have put in. The sacrifices made, the togetherness of the group when certain critisims and harsh words could have derailed the whole situation.
"Unjust criticism at inopprtunte moments by people who make money by criticising. it is easy to knock people. When they realise what it takes to win games of football, to make sure they do things right, then they realise the sacrifice you have to make.
"I'm delighted for the players, I'm delighted for the supporters who now have something to look forward to. I think their encouragement really drove the team on and the rose to that.
"I've said to other members of the press that I was hurt that a team of mine could be accussed of lacking passion and desire. We have created so many chances this year. More than last year. We just haven't taken as many this year. we have drawn too many games. That is what has cost us. Not a lack of desire or passion.
"When them sort of words are thrown at my team I'm disgusted. It is a shame because the majority of the supporters are good, good people who want the best for this football club and I have a group of lads that want to give them success. We have tried hard to try and create history to try by being the first Sligo team to win back-to-back titles.
"It may or may not happen. The likeihood is that it may not but nobody can throw any criticism when players are giving more than 100% in every game. But listen, that is sport, that is the way football is going in the last few years, it is very easy to sit there in the ivory tower if you like I suppose and criticise."
Rovers will meeting Drogheda United in the final as Mick Cooke's troops reach a third Cup final of the year by beating Dundalk.
Baraclough sees it as a huge challenge at the Aviva Stadium.
He concluded: "We've beaten Drogheda, they have beaten us at times, we will have to match their work-rate and put in more than what we have done today.
"We will have to not get embroiled in their way of playing and make sure we play our brand of football but still work very, very hard. That is the first line in any team-talk I give.
"You must work hard and you will get your rewards."