City too slick for woeful Rovers
Shamrock Rovers 0 Cork City 5
Shamrock Rovers' policy of promoting youth development and giving young players a chance should, in time, yield dividends for the club.
But, in last night's FAI Cup meeting with Cork City, it was a case of men against boys as the Tallaght club were swept aside and out of the competition by a far superior Cork side, a 5-0 loss which had the anoraks digging out the history books to discover Rovers' record defeat in a Cup tie.
That was back in the 1930s but this was certainly a record loss at Tallaght Stadium and boss Stephen Bradley has a job on his hands in the next week to lift spirits before Rovers face Cork again, in the league, in Cork, next Friday.
With Dundalk well-placed to retain their league title, the Cup offers Cork the best route to a trophy this season and, on this form, they will be unstoppable. With barely half an hour gone, Cork had already stormed into a 3-0 lead and, effectively, a place in the Cup semi-finals, Rovers simply unable to live with the superior power, pace and experience of City and their striker, hat-trick hero, Seán Maguire who has now scored in five successive games for Cork and the Ireland U21s.
Hoops boss Stephen Bradley, who handed a debut last night to 16-year-old Aaron Bolger, has faith in his system which sees him deploy a three-man defence but that back line was all at sea, though it's unfair to single out the defenders as City were superior in every area. Just three minutes had gone before City had the lead, through striker Maguire.
The Kilkenny native, who the subject of an offer from a top-flight club in Belgium before the transfer window closed last month, came into the game with confidence high, having scored goals in consecutive games for the Ireland U21 side in their Euro qualifying campaign in the previous week, and former West Ham man Maguire was coolness personified when he scored the lead goal.
Garry Buckley did the hard graft, working his way from the touchline - though the home side will dispute that the ball was out of play - to find Maguire and he rounded keeper Barry Murphy to give Cork the lead.
Rovers had a quick response, Aaron Dobbs forcing a save from Mark McNulty two minutes later but that reaction was just short lived as, in the 12th minute, Rovers were 2-0 down.
Stephen Dooley worked his magic out on the left wing, turning his marker and sliding in a ball for Buckley. The Cork midfielder still had work to do but managed to switch feet and fire home a right-footed shot past Murphy.
U21 cap Kevin O'Connor almost added another from a free kick on 24 minutes, but the honour of the third goal came from former Rovers man Karl Sheppard on 33 minutes, Maguire the provider for Portmarnock lad Sheppard.
Rovers made a change at the break, Dean Clarke brought on for Dobbs but there was no relief from the onslaught by the men from Munster. Merely seconds into the second half, City were 4-0 up, as the Rovers defence had no idea how to deal with a high ball out of defence from Cork full back O'Connor, Maguire pounced as Seán Heaney dithered and fired home a shot which keeper Murphy got a hand to, but not enough to keep it out.
And on 49 minutes, it was five goals for Cork and three for Maguire, Dooley again the provider as keeper Murphy was again left with no protection.
Maguire could even have had a fourth goal for himself, Dooley's cross on 66 minutes falling nicely for the striker but this time keeper Murphy made the save, while just before that Alan Bennett was just wide with another effort for John Caulfield's men, and on 70 minutes Maguire forced another save, with a header, from Murphy.