Rovers seek more trophies in 2015
We are looking at reasons to Back the Bit o'Red in 2015 with part nine of our 10 part series today.
Our next look is at the success enjoyed by the club over the past five years which the Bit o’Red will be aiming to add to in 2015.
Rovers have won six trophies over the past five years which is more than any other club in the country.
A 12 year wait for a major trophy was ended in 2010 by winning the EA Sports Cup and since then every possible trophy has been won.
We will take a look back at each of the competitions that have seen Rovers emerge victorious in.
2010 EA Sports Cup: Not since winning the same competition in 1998 has Rovers brought a major trophy to the Showgrounds until the 2010 EA Sports Cup. Rovers began with two comfortable wins over Letterkenny Rovers and St. Pat’s at the Showgrounds. The semi-final seen a come from behind 2-1 home win over Shamrock Rovers thanks to a Padraig Amond double. The final would again be at the home of the Bit o’Red and in front of a packed house Matthew Blinkhorn’s early strike won the game and allowed captain Conor O’Grady to lift the trophy.
2010 FAI Cup: It wouldn’t be long to wait for another trophy as Rovers proved themselves to be the cup kings of 2010. 1-0 wins against Athlone Town and Finn Harps put Paul Cook’s team into the quarter-finals and another game with Monaghan United. They were brushed aside 3-0 and a semi-final date with Bohemians at Dalymount Park was booked. A superb performance with a winner from Gavin Peers put Rovers into the final. A famous first Cup final at the Aviva Stadium in front of over 36,000 fans ended 0-0 between Rovers and Shamrock Rovers. The penalty shoot-out seen a remarkable four saves from Ciaran Kelly and goals by Eoin Doyle and Gary McCabe as the Bit o’Red lifted the trophy for the first time in 16 years.
2011 FAI Cup: The cup success continued the next year. Non-league Pike Rovers ran the defending champions close in the first round and a replay was need to see of Monaghan United before a repeat of the previous year’s final took place at the Showgrounds in the Quarter-finals. Eoin Doyle was the matchwinner scoring the only goal of the game. Again Rovers would travel to play Bohs in the semi-final and again the score was 1-0, this time Jason McGuinness was the scorer. The opponents in this year’s final would be First Division side Shelbourne. The proved tough opposition and took the lead but Iarfhlaith Davoren got an equaliser to force penalties once again. Ciaran Kelly again proved the hero as he saved two penalties while all penalties were scored from Eoin Doyle, Richie Ryan, Alan Keane and Raf Cretaro.
2012 League: Having won in cup competitions Rovers finally became league champions ending a 35 year wait. Ian Baraclough became manager just days before the season started but a good season seen the Bit o’Red go top of the table after just five games and remained there all season. The only loss in the first 31 games occurred away to U.C.D. in May as Rovers built up a large lead. Huge home crowds drove the team on towards the end of the season and when second place St. Pat’s visited with three games to go a win would secure the title. Two Cretaro goals in the first half had it seemingly all but wrapped up but the Saints came back to level. Then with minutes left Mark Quigley scored a penalty to give Rovers the league and one of the most famous days in the Showgrounds history.
2013 FAI Cup: Despite a great start to the season Rovers it would again be the FAI Cup where glory was found in 2013. The run started with an away win in Waterford before three home wins. Gavin Peers and Raf Cretaro scored to give 1-0 wins over both Cork City and Derry City. Old foes Shamrock Rovers would again provide the opposition for the semi-final. Late goals from Alan Keane and Anthony Elding seen the visitors swept aside 3-0. Opponents in this final were Drogheda United. The final was one of the most dramatic in the competition’s long history. Drogheda had a 1-0 lead up until the 78th minute when sub Danny North scored two quick goals to turn the game around. However Drogheda brought the game level again in extratime. But Rovers kept going and retook the lead in the 94th minute with a dramatic, spectacular goal from Anthony Elding and it was a third FAI Cup in four years.
2014 Setanta Sports Cup: The only trophy Rovers had yet to lift was the Setanta Cup despite several near misses. Crusaders were swept aside first 9-1 on aggregate with two comprehensive wins. Rovers played St. Pat’s in the semi-finals with a 2-0 first leg win at the Showgrounds. It was followed by a 5-1 win to send the Bit o’Red into a first ever final. Against league leaders Dundalk on a wet day at Tallaght Stadium Paul O’Conor produced the only goal and brought yet more honours to the Showgrounds.
Owen Heary has set his sights on bringing more silverware to the Showgrounds in 2015. In his playing career he won more league titles than any other player.
On his targets for the club in his first season: “The aim is to win the league, there can’t be any other aim. There’s no point entering a league if you don’t think you can win it. I often say that why is a player with a lesser known player not expected to win the league but when he steps up to a club that is expected to win the league then he’s expected to win the league. It shouldn’t be any different wherever you go. The emphasis has to be on winning the league and you strive for that, if in the end you’re not good enough well then at least you have something to strive for.”
Raf Cretaro is confident that the club can repeat the success of recent years and win more honours: “I definitely think we can win more next year, I see no reason why we can’t. The squad is beginning to come together now. I know that the top of Owen’s list of priorities will be to lift a trophy. I am really looking forward to next year and it should be a very interesting season. Hopefully we can get a good start and go on from there.”
Alan Keane: “I believe we can challenge for the league next year. The manager is ambitious and he knows what it takes to win the league. We have a good mix of young hungry players and players who have won the league before. You can see with Owen he knows his ambitions and he doesn’t want to settle for being a mid-table team. You can see the ambition in him and I wouldn’t have signed if that ambition wasn’t there.”
New signing Eoin Wearen: “I definitely think the squad we have here is capable of winning trophies and that’s why I am here, I am ambitious myself, I want to be challenging for leagues and cups and everything so if I didn’t see that in the first place I wouldn’t be down here. That comes first for me, I want to be competing at the top of the table.”
Steven Beattie is optimistic that the club will be successful again this year: “Realistically I think the club can win the league this year. No way am I moving to Sligo to go backwards in my career. I think this is an opportunity for me to win things. With the new faces brought in and the lads that have re-signed, the likes of Creatro who is a brilliant player and has been unbelievable for the last five or six years. There is players there to win a league and challenge and go on a serious cup run. Sligo Rovers has that mentality of winning things and there’s no reason why we won’t get back there next year. It’s a task and will not be easy but I think we are very capable.”
Jeff Henderson said on 2015: “I think next year with the team we have we can push on and get back to challenging on all fronts. I definitely think we should be getting back into Europe and hopefully having a good Cup run. The club has been used to winning over the past few years and I think that we will be strong again this year.”
See and support Rovers on the quest to win further honours in 2015 with season tickets on sale now: http://www.sligorovers.com/news/14/dec/one-week-left-get-discounted-season-tickets
Back the Bit o'Red in 2015