Macdara Ferris reports from Fairgreen in Limerick
Shamrock Rovers won their first match of their pre-season campaign 1-0 against Fairview Rangers in Limerick on Saturday evening.
Like they did on so many occasions last season, their victory came from a late winner with Danny Mandroiu steering the ball home off a Dylan Watts corner to claim the win over their gritty Limerick opponents.
The Hoops had only seen sight of the football in pre-season last Monday, having been doing gym and fitness work prior to that.
They travelled with a mix of their first team squad – bar a few players that are carrying a few niggles – and some of their underage players that are currently in transition year in Ashfield College as part of the Rovers Academy. Those teenagers have been training with the first team squad this week.
The match was being played in Limerick to celebrate the installation of new floodlights in the Fairview Rangers ground and the locals and travelling Rovers supporters were served up a competitive but fair match between the 19 times League of Ireland champions and the nine times FAI Junior Cup winners.
The home team had the chance to go 1-0 up inside the first minute with Conor Coughlan putting his foot through the ball and his volley was going on target before clipping Cole Omorehiomwan on the way over.
Both sides created a few half chances in the opening quarter – Russell Quirke driving a shot over the bar at one end and Rovers’ Richie Towell dragging his effort wide of goal at the other.
On 15 minutes, Chris McCann needed to step out and block Ross Mann’s shot that was heading toward Leon Pohls in the Rovers goal.
Barry Cotter was marshalling Rovers’ back three playing centrally with teenagers Cole Omorehiomwan and Corey O’Sullivan either side of him. Fairview Rangers ‘keeper Aaron Savage on a couple of occasions came through traffic to either catch or punch clear Rovers corner kicks from Richie Towell.
His clean sheet was kept thanks to a timely tackle from Mick O’Gorman who stopped a Neil Farrugia shot after he danced through the Rangers defence.
Stephen Bradley made eight substitutions at half time including bringing Republic of Ireland international Jack Byrne off the bench and himself and second half sub Danny Mandroiu linked up well in the second period.
Byrne put a free kick into the box – after his trademark shuffle – on 70 minutes that Sean Hoare headed against the bar and Watts clipped an effort off the bar six minutes from time after he took on John Ryan’s low cross.
At the other end teenage substitute ‘keeper Tom Leitis needed to be on his toes to thwart AJ Moloney on two occasions.
The winner came from Rovers’ player of the season from 2021 Mandroiu as he converted a late corner. Even with Jack Byrne on the pitch, Watts was on corner duty and it was he who supplied the assist a minute from the end of the 90.
Fairview Rangers: Aaron Savage, Jamie Enright, Mark Slattery, Martin Deady, Mike O’Gorman, Russell Quirke, Jeffrey Judge, Shane Duggan, AJ O'Connor (c), Ross Mann, Conor Coughlan.
Subs: Jason Cross, Josh Considine, John Mullane, Eoin Duff, Declan Cahill, Dylan O’Sullivan, AJ Moloney, Paul Donovan.
Shamrock Rovers: Leon Pohls (Toms Leitis 62); Cole Omorehiomwan (Sean Jones-Carey 46), Barry Cotter (Sean Hoare 46), Corey O'Sullivan (Lee Grace 46); Ronan Finn (c) (Dylan Watts 46), John O'Sullivan (John Ryan 46), Dara McGuinness, Chris McCann (Oisin Hand 46), Richie Towell (Jack Byrne 46), Neil Farrugia (Gary O'Neill 46); Aidomo Emakhu (Daniel Mandroiu 46).
Subs not used: None.