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Shamrock Rovers claim Newstalk A Championship title

Shamrock Rovers claimed the Newstalk A Championship thanks to a Don Cowan goal deep inside second half stoppage time of the competition final at Drom against Salthill Devon. The Hoops claimed a 1-0 win after Cowan struck in the 97th minute with virtually the last kick of the ball.

The first half was splayed in blustery conditions and was evenly contested throughout, both defences in dominant form.Don Cowan for the Hoops showed the first glimpses of form as he threatened the home rearguard, but was contained well by Sean Murphy.

Salthill’s first half chance fell to Shane Browne after 25 minutes but his snap shot was well wide of target. Cowan produced the Hoops’ first real chance two minutes later but his shot from an acute angel was tipped over by Ronan Forde in the home goal.

On the half hour Sean Dunne’s cross was headed over by Marcin Maranek as the home side pressed forward in search of the lead.

Chances were few and far between as the first half ebbed towards the break, with neither side making any errors or delivering any real breakthrough moves. However Mickey Gilmore looked a real threat at times for Salthill while Cowan looked the most likely for the Hoops.

The pattern of the second half mirrored the opening half in many ways with a tight hard fought encounter with few clear cut chances, until the 7th minutes of time added on when goalkeeper Ronan Forde was stranded outside his area and he could not control the ball Cowan ended up with the easy task of tapping the ball into an empty net.

Salthill lost striker Marcin Maranek who hobbled off after ten minutes to be replace by Damien O’Reilly who posed a major threat for the remainder of the half. Five minutes later the Hoops had a real chance when Paddy Kavanagh wriggled free but his ‘on target’ shot was blocked by Sean Murphy and cleared.

Rovers looked the stronger in the opening 20 minutes of the half, but Salthill gradually got into their stride and they were the team going forward in the close quarter but could not just get that vital last touch.

The final was a good advertisement for Irish soccer, played in a good spirit with plenty of quality play despite the windy conditions.

Victor Ekanem was selected man of the match for his excellent display in the Rovers rearguard. Shamrock deserved their victory by virtue of the fact that they took their chance when it came. Salthill Devon have come a long way in one season from bottom of the A league last year to contesting this years final. They have a playoff with Kildare for a place in the first division to come as a consolation prize.

Salthill Devon: Ronan Forde, Paddy Quinlan, Geroid O’Lidhinn, Sean Murphy, James Whelan, Ryan O’Donnell, Sean Boyle, Robbie Porter, Mickey Gilmore (Brian Geraghty), Marcin Maranek (Damien O’Reilly), Shane Browne.

Subs not used: Marty Mannion, Ronan Larkin, Ger Cheevers.

Shamrock Rovers: Robert Duggan, Simon Madden, Craig Rothery, Pat Flynn, Victor Ekanem, Barry Johnston, Paddy Kavanagh,  Ross Chisholm, Padraig Amond, Don Cowan, Darren Good (Jason Oladele)

Subs not used: Thomas Hyland, Keith O’Neill, Stephen Conlon, Michael Iscihei
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