Rovers progress on penalties

Sligo Rovers will head to Tallaght to face Shamrock Rovers in the first of this Sunday’s FAI Cup semi-finals after they overcame Derry City at the Showgrounds.

Only a penalty shoot-out could separate the sides after two hours of football which failed to provide a goal.

Sligo did miss one of their four penalties but misses from Conor McCormack and Walter Figueira left Ibrahim Meita with the pressure kick, which he fired wide, and so the hosts prevailed 3-1 from the spot kicks. 

Despite having their recent training regime hit by several Covid cases since their last outing over two weeks ago, it was the visitors who started this game the livelier.

James Akintunde provided Ed McGinty with his first test of the evening three minutes in. McGinty keeping hold of Akintunde’s header after the striker rose to meet Ciaran Coll’s cross.

This was also a sluggish looking Sligo’s first game since their win over Dundalk at Oriel Park 16 days previous.

A combination of McGinty and Ronan Coughlan proving just enough to keep Gerardo Bruno’s free-kick from creeping in at the front post 23 minutes in as Liam Buckley’s men struggled to find their feet.

City enjoyed the better of this opening half but could have fell behind through a sucker punch on 33 as Rovers carved out their first opportunity.

Ex-Derry ace Junior’s disguised ball played Coughlan in, but City net minder Peter Cherrie spread himself well to block Coughlan’s drive from the angle. While Garry Buckley’s well struck volley from the resulting corner reminded Declan Devine’s charges of Sligo’s potential fire power. The stand-in centre half shooting narrowly over.

Despite spending the opening 45 on the back foot, the hosts manufactured another chance to open the scoring in the opening moments of the second period. But the unmarked Alex Cooper failed to find his bearings as he mis-judged the flight of Coughlan’s flick to the back post from a Regan Donelon cross.

Another Bruno set piece, this time from 25 yards, had McGinty scurrying again on 65. The ball sailing narrowly over the Ireland U21 international’s crossbar.

Akintunde was next to go close on 71, but wrapped his weighted effort past the far post having slipped the ball past John Mahon, as the powerful marksman made his way goalwards from the sideline.

McGinty’s goalmouth continued to attract much of the focus as City passed up further chances.

The rookie goalkeeper did well to deflect Stephen Mallon’s effort away for a corner before Cameron McJannett smashed a close range header off the crossbar from the resulting set piece.

Substitute Walter Figueira could only fire straight at McGinty shortly after his introduction. While McGinty was equal to anything Adam Hammill could throw at him in added time after the winger bossed his way past two challenges.

Sligo fashioned the best chance of a hard fought half-hour of extra time when Junior looked favourite to finish from close range from a corner. But a number of Derry bodies managed to block down the headed effort.

And so to the shootout where the mis-firing Figueira and Conor McCormack meant Ibrahim Meita had to score to keep his side in the tie. But the substitute could only drag his deciding spot kick wide of the Sligo goal.

Sligo Rovers: Ed McGinty; Lewis Banks, John Mahon, Garry Buckley, Regan Donelon; David Cawley (Darragh Noone 85), Will Seymore; Alex Cooper, Junior; Ronan Coughlan, Ryan De Vries (Danny Kane 90).

Derry City: Peter Cherrie; Colm Horgan, Eoin Toal, Cameron McJannet, Ciaran Coll; Stephen Mallon (Walter Figueira 80), Conor McCormack, Jack Malone (Ciaron Harkin 61), Adam Hamill (Conor Clifford 110); Gerardo Bruna (Joe Thomson 80), James Akintunde (Ibrahim Meite 87).

Referee: Neil Doyle

Preview: Buckley keen for Rovers to make further step

Sligo Rovers play their final game of the calendar year in The Showgrounds on Wednesday night against Derry City in the Extra.ie FAI Cup quarter-finals.

After two postponements, the game kick-offs at 7.30pm on Wednesday ,live on WATCHLOI, with the winner set to face Shamrock Rovers on Sunday in a semi-final.

Rovers are looking to make it back-to-back appearances in the last four of the Cup.

The Bit O’ Red have recorded two wins over Derry this campaign, 2-0 and 1-0, in fiercely contested games.

In team news, Rovers will be without Niall Morahan and Jesse Devers due to suspensions carrying over from the end of the league season.

Ronan Murray (toe) and Johnny Dunleavy (knee)are the only other absentees.

Liam Buckley said: “We’ve managed our schedule with the additional delay. It was just another weekend and the players are just ticking over in terms of fitness at this stage of the season. We’ve done our best with that.

“We have a couple of suspensions and they are two players who have done really well for us, but at the same time we have players coming back and looking to be in our team so that brings an opportunity for them.

“I said to the group that it’s great to be fourth in the table and it was a really great finish to the season but memories are also built on winning cups and winning leagues, getting into Europe and playing games.

“It’s about occasions. From a football perspective I want our lads to grasp it as best they can and see what happens from there.

“The cup is special, definitely. From the final whistle in Dundalk we said that wasn’t our season finished, we had to bring it in to the Derry game and that is what we will look to do.

“It will be difficult, I know. The game there and down here, there wasn’t much in it, albeit we won both games, but that said it won’t come into my consideration.

“You’d like to think that maybe a little bit of momentum from our end might be helpful but having been there and done that, let me tell you, it’s do or die.

“Derry are coming down here and their season finishes the following day and that’s it. Our season finishes the following day if we lose. So I’ve no doubt they will be up for it.

“It’ll be tight. There wasn’t a lot in both matches we played this season. At times we kept good possession and all that but in saying that, there wasn’t a lot in those games. So it’ll be do or die.

“We’re going to give it our best shot. Europe is also in consideration. Our opportunity of getting to Europe is winning the FAI Cup or taking a step further to do it. The Cup is loved here. I know the buzz that would be here if we did get further in it.

“We’ve got to give ourselves a chance of winning because It is all about winning. The memories you can look back on, I know at my age what they mean. The memories I have are all the big pictures. This is a big picture for us.

“The club is owned by thousands of people. A few people run but it’s owned by the community. It’s their club and I take great pride in representing all those people. I don’t want anyone not to put in a shift, or effort, or not do your absolute utmost for these people.

“We are honoured to come in here and play for them. They can’t be with us on Wednesday night. You can’t replace the buzz with the fans and not having them here is bitterly disappointing. All we can do is respect that they are watching and following us. We owe it to them we give it our best. I know they want us to win, I know they do.”

Lotto Jackpot Now at €8,300

There was no jackpot winner in this afternoons club lotto draw, which means the jackpot now climbs to €8,300.

The next draw will take place on Monday, November 30th.

Congratulations to Joe Mc Loughlin, C/O Mickey Mc Tiernan, who won the runners up prize worth €100 in todays draw.

The numbers drawn were 8, 18, 20 and 28.

The cost per draw is only €2 and you can enter next weeks draw by clicking here.

Joseph Ndo will be first name in next Bit O’Red Wall phase

A tile celebrating Joseph Ndo will be the first part of the next section of the Bit O’ Red Wall at Sligo Showgrounds.

The first phase, made up of 315 individual tiles, was erected last year. It is part of the impressive new outdoor museum, immediately opposite the dressing rooms on the Treacy Avenue side of the ground.

According to Sligo Rovers chairman, Tommy Higgins, “ fans recognise that the Wall is one more way to celebrate the special bond between the club and the community. Behind every tile there is a story about the relationship between an individual or a family and Sligo Rovers. After the warm reaction to the first section, we promised that we would add to it. We are ready to begin that work.”

Joseph Ndo signed for Sligo Rovers from Bohemians in March 2010. He became an influential force during the most successful period in the club’s history. As well as being an elegant midfielder, he was a clever tactician and his reputation and influence attracted a number of other key players to The Showgrounds.

The tile, donated anonymously by a fan, will read
Joseph Ndo
SRFC Legend
Gentleman

The renowned Boyle-based stonemasons, Feelystone, will again have responsibility for the craft work. Each tile, costing €100, will accommodate 3 lines, with 16 characters including spaces per line.

The Wall provides fans with the chance to have their permanent place in The Showgrounds. It also allows supporters who are living away from Sligo to celebrate their links with the club. Another dimension of the project is it gives an opportunity to remember deceased family members and their long association with The Showgrounds.

As well as enhancing the ground, the Bit O’Red Wall helps to provide funds for Sligo Rovers. It is one more example of the initiatives taken by the club to make the Showgrounds as the beating heart of Sligo and a standard-bearer for the League of Ireland.

It is anticipated that fans may wish to purchase a tile in the wall as a Christmas gift. Shane Crossan is overseeing the work. Tiles may be bought by using the Sligo Rovers website or by phoning Shane at 087-7526445.

To order a tile online, you can click here.

Alternatively, to purchase a tile over the phone, or to seek more information, you can contact Shane at the above number.

An order form is given below for anyone who wishes to print an application form and return it to The Showgrounds or the club shop in Barton Smiths.

The Showgrounds Scheme is organised by a group including Frank Beirne, Michael Clancy, Kevin Colreavy, Shane Crossan, Mark Cummins, Andy Dodd, Colin Feehily, Tommie Gorman, Sandra Healy, Rory Houston, Paddy Houze and Brendan Lacken.

Derry game postponed

The FAI Cup quarter-final between Sligo Rovers and Derry City has been postponed following an outbreak of Covid-19 within the Candystripes camp.

The match will now take place next Wednesday at 7.30pm

Vote for Wehrly Bros Players of the Year

Voting is now open for the Wehrly Bros’ Sligo Rovers Young Player of the Year and Senior Player of the Year.

The young player of the year is open to players under the age of 22.

Ed McGinty, Niall Morahan and John Mahon are nominated.

To vote click here.

The senior award sees 12 players nominated on a criteria where there must be a minimum of 11 starts to be eligible.

To vote click here

Voting concludes on Friday.

Callan-McFadden departs for family reasons

Sligo Rovers defender Kyle Callan-McFadden is departing the club today as he is relocating to England for family reasons.

After four seasons with the Bit O’ Red, including becoming captain at the age of 22 in 2018, Kyle moves on with great wishes from everyone at the football club.

Listen to an interview with Kyle Callan-McFadden here too

He will join King’s Lynn in England, a club located in Norfolk where his wife’s family are based and has secured employment.

Callan-McFadden explains: “During the first lockdown I got the phone call. I know the manager as he was part of the first-team coaching staff at Norwich when I was there. We spoke about it as a family and we thought it was right to move back to England. It has been six years since Ella has been living near her family and friends. We had a great life in Ireland but Ella has a job secured in the NHS. It came fast but it’s the right time to move on. It’s a wee change for me after four years here. It’s more a family decision than football but it’s a change for us all. We’re looking forward to it now.”

King’s Lynn play in the National League in England and earned an upset victory in the FA Cup over Port Vale last week. They have been rising through the leagues in England and are just one tier away from League 2.

“When a club shows ambition to get up the ladder in England, it’s good of course. I spoke to some players I know over there from my time at Norwich and they all said positive things. They have an aim in place for two to three years and that’s something I want to be part. I’m looking forward to it. Sadly my time at Sligo had to come to an end.”

Kyle scoring against Derry in the first goal of the restarted league

Callan-McFadden leaves after his best season for the club after finishing fourth in the table.

“There is a bit of mixed emotions. It couldn’t happen to a better bunch of lads to finish fourth this season. They are a great group with no bad eggs. They deserve every success and the coaching staff as well. They have worked tirelessly with us, even through the lockdown, sending us programs and keeping us fit. It obviously worked because we hit the ground running and we haven’t really stopped. Hopefully they can go on to win the FAI Cup.”

After his first season under the manager Dave Robertson, Gerard Lyttle was then appointed and made Callan-McFadden captain alongside John Russell, sharing it over the season. He won Player of the Year in 2017.

Kyle Callan-McFadden won Player of the Year in 2017. He is a nominee this season

He reflects warmly on the managers that have shown a great deal of trust in him at The Showgrounds

“I think I’ve developed loads over the four seasons. I was almost chucked in at the deep end at 22 being captain. I probably felt the pressure a bit more being captain by myself in the second year. It was probably one of my worst years playing for the club, I dipped in form massively. It was not nice to see Ger move on as he showed great faith in me.

“Liam Buckley has come in and it has been a breath of fresh air for everyone. I started to find my feet again. I did a bit of a stint in midfield in the first season. I’ve definitely developed and especially playing different positions. To be captain of a senior club rather than a youth team and leading the team to a FAI Cup semi-final last year was brilliant. This year has been a strange year but a brilliant one for us on the pitch. Sligo definitely helped me develop into the player and person I am today.”

Leading the Bit O’ Red

Buckley has brought in more experienced players to the group, something which Callan-McFadden feel has helped, along with the array of young talent in the group.

“It’s definitely made a difference to me and the squad. Johnny Dunleavy, David Cawley, Ronan Murray and Garry Buckley, all of them boys and more. That definitely helped me and even now the young boys now buy into leadership more like Niall Morahan. He has been fantastic and our player of the year in my view. Everyone has pulled in the one direction this year. If you have a bad game, there is always a player to rely on to pick you up and help you go again. That has been proven this season.”

The 25-year-old has also paid tribute to Liam Buckley and the management committee for facilitating the move.

“I spoke to the manager after lockdown, he was brilliant. I told him King’s Lynn had contacted me and I told him what was being offered and how it would suit our family, and he stood by me with it. He told me it was a big opportunity to go over and make a name in England again. He said if you keep playing as you are, then it won’t be a problem. The board have been understanding as well. I can’t say a bad word about the club on how they’ve dealt with me on this or over these last four years. They’ve looked after me brilliantly.

“The supporters and the people in Sligo have been great too so they have. We’re very grateful for the life we had here in the last four years and especially for our family.”

Starting a memorable second half of the season

Callan-McFadden will be able to play for King’s Lynn immediately once international clearance comes through, but will not have a game on 20 November and he will watch his former team-mates in FAI Cup action against Derry City on WATCHLOI.

“I’ll 100% be watching. I texted all the boys to let them know I’ll be looking out for them and rooting for them, I really genuinely do hope they go on and lift that Cup now.”

The club would like to thank Kyle for his tremendous service, professionalism and representing Sligo Rovers in such a dedicated way over these four seasons.

We wish Kyle and his family great times ahead and look forward to welcoming them back for visits to The Showgrounds in the future.

Annual Draw at €10,000

There are now just six weeks to go until the annual draw, with €10,000 raised for the club so far.

With a special emphasis on online sales this year due to Covid 19 restrictions, the club are asking as many supporters as possible to purchase their tickets online.

There are 10 prizes to be won in total, including two €500 vouchers for Petstop Discount Warehouse & Fuel Centre along with a mouth-watering €5,000 first prize.

Tickets are priced at €10 and can be purchased here.

All support is greatly appreciated and a special thanks to everyone who has supported the draw so far.

Rovers win to finish fourth in table

Sligo Rovers profited from another goalkeeping gaffe for Dundalk at Oriel Park to give themselves a chance of European football next season.

After criticism of Aaron McCarey’s display in the 4-3 Europa League defeat away to Rapid Wien last Thursday, Gary Rogers was one of six changes to the Lilywhites side selected by interim head coach Filippo Giovagnoli.

However, the veteran was caught all at sea for the opening goal in the game after just 10 minutes when a cross from wide on the right looped over his head and into the net. Ronan Coughlan would add a stunning second deep in stoppage time to ensure the three points for the visitors on a night when the home side never really showed up.

Those goals were enough for Liam Buckley’s side to claim fourth place in the table, which could be enough for a Europa League spot if one of the three sides above them in the table goes on to win the FAI Cup.

That would be a tremendous achievement for a Sligo side who were bottom without a point when the league resumed at the end of July.

While they sweat over whether or not they will be in Europe next season, Dundalk can perhaps count themselves fortunate to be there already.Defeat to the Bit O Red meant that they needed a favour from Finn Harps to finish third. 

This was another insipid display from the dethroned champions who finish the campaign a massive 22 points off Shamrock Rovers and 11 points adrift of Bohemians.

They still have the FAI Cup and three Europa League games to come in the coming weeks but for many this may have been an Oriel Park farewell after a forgettable domestic season.Jordan Flores had an early effort for the hosts which was straight at Ed McGinty but after that the visitors took control.

Their first chance arrived in the ninth minute when Ryan De Vries found space on the right to cross to the unmarked Ronan Coughlan but he could only glance his header across the face of goal and wide.Within a minute the Bit O Red were in front.

De Vries showed remarkable skill to spin away from two challenges before releasing Jesse Devers on the right with his cross/shot deceiving Rogers as it flew over his head into the top left hand corner.

Dundalk were fortunate it wasn’t 2-0 two minutes later as Coughlan found space at the edge of the box to get a shot away only to fire straight at Rogers.

The striker would have another chance soon after when he met Regan Donelan’s corner at the near post but on this occasion he couldn’t keep his header down.The home side did have a few chances before the break with Flores firing over from Stefan Colovic’s lay off before McGinty did well to save a deflected effort from Sean Murray from the edge of the box.

The Republic of Ireland U-21 squad member then produced two stunning saves two minutes before the break when he firstly clawed away a hooked effort from Daniel Cleary from a Colovic corner before making an even better stop from the follow up corner when he tipped Brian Gartland’s header around the post.

After surviving a scare when Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe was unmarked at the back post but fired tamely at Rogers, Dundalk’s evening then went from bad to worse in first half stoppage time when top scorer Patrick Hoban limped off with a serious looking injury.

Sean Gannon was also introduced on the wing at half-time but it was right back Sean Hoare who created the first chance of the second half on 53 minutes when his cross picked out the unmarked McMillan whose header was well saved by McGinty at the second attempt.

There were few further openings after that with McMillan unable to capitalise on other half chances. Cleary was even deployed up front towards the end as they went in desperate search of a leveller.It almost arrived two a minute from the end when Hoare’s header from Colovic’s corner was turned goalward by Gannon but again McGinty was equal to it as it was turned around the post.

Daniel Cleary had a couple of bites at the cherry to grab an equaliser in the second minute of stoppage time but it was Sligo who would be celebrating in the 96th minute when Coughlan rifled a stunning shot past Rogers to complete the victory.

Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Sean Hoare, Brian Gartland, Daniel Cleary, Cameron Dummigan; Greg Sloggett, Jordan Flores (John Mountney 74); Stefan Colovic, Sean Murray (Sean Gannon HT), Nathan Oduwa; Patrick Hoban (David McMillan 45+2). Subs not used: Aaron McCarey, Darragh Leahy, Jamie Wynne, Andy Boyle.

Sligo Rovers: Ed McGinty; Lewis Banks, Garry Buckley, John Mahon, Regan Donelon (Alex Cooper 64); David Cawley, Niall Morahan (Will Seymore 79); Jesse Devers, Ryan De Vries, Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe; Ronan Coughlan. Subs not used: Luke McNicholas, Danny Kane, Darragh Noone, Darren Collins, Sigitas Olberkis.

Preview: Rovers go to Dundalk with hope of high finish

Sligo Rovers play their final game of the SSE Airtricity Premier Division on Monday against Dundalk at Oriel Park, kick-off 7.30pm, live on WATCHLOI.ie.

The Bit O’ Red go in search of a first top-half finish since 2016 and could end in fourth place depending on results elsewhere.The last time Rovers finish as high as that was third place in 2013. 

Rovers have earned 22 points in 13 matches since the restart, the third best in the division.

Earlier this season Rovers were 3-1 winners over Dundalk in The Showgrounds as part of seven wins from the last eight games in league at home.  

Away from home has proven much trickier for Rovers in 2020, failing to score in seven of eight games so far, with the only goals coming in the 2-0 win over Derry City.

That stat must be improved upon for the Bit O’ Red to secure the finish desired in the league.

Incidentally the last Rovers last win in Oriel Park came in the 2016 campaign.

In team news, Teemu Penninkangas and Mark Byrne are slight doubts with knocks but could be available.

Johnny Dunleavy (knee) and Ronan Murray (toe) are definitely out. Ryan De Vries (knee) is available after being forced off at half-time against Cork City.

Liam Buckley said: “We’re looking forward to the game certainly. When the season restarted, if you told us that we’d have the chance to finish fifth and possibly get fourth which could be Europe, and with an FAI Cup quarter-final to come, we would have taken it without doubt.

“It’s a good outcome to be in this position from where we were on 31 July. There is this opportunity for us and unquestionably there’s a huge amount on the line in this game.

“It’s a difficult one when you are facing Dundalk away from home, we know that. They are looking for a result as well to seal third place. But it’s a chance for us and we’re going there with that in mind.

“We had a very tight game in The Showgrounds where we produced a performance and scored goals. We managed to get the win that day.  We’re looking to try to do that again and see where that take us.

“There are a lot of permutations about what could happen, I’m sure there’ll be twists and turns over the evening. From our point of view we’re looking forward to the game and trying to get the result we want.”