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Thursday 14 December 2017

Sheppard double seals deal

Captain Kenna praises Hoops' super sub Karl

SHAMROCK Rovers captain Conor Kenna hailed the impact of the Hoops' super subs who helped Pat Fenlon's side into the last four of the FAI Ford Cup last night.

With ten minutes left in their quarter-final replay away to Dundalk, Rovers looked to be on their way out of the competiton as they trailed to a 40th minute goal from Dundalk strike Pat Hoban and Dundalk fans dreamed of a treble.

But subs Karl Sheppard, Kieran Marty Watters and Stephen McPhail all combined in the closing minutes, Sheppard scoring an equaliser and then an 87th minute winner to allow the Hoops join Dublin rivals St Patrick's Athletic in the last four.

"That just shows the character we have in this team and this squad," said Rovers defender Kenna after the win.

"It's just brilliant to have players like that on your bench, they all did great when they came on and Karl got two great finishes.

"Kieran Marty Watters did great when he came on and Stephen McPhail was brilliant, he came on and settled things down, he got on the ball which we hadn't really been doing before that, everything was a bit rushed but a player like Stephen showed his quality.

"I never thought we were out of the game. We were disappointed to be 1-0 down at the end of the first half but we had a chat about it at half time, we knew we would have chances in the game and the subs coming on proved to be the difference, they freshened things up and got us the win," added Kenna.

The Hoops could even have gone behind as early as the seventh minute when a clever through ball from Mark Rossiter found its way to Kurtis Byrne but the Tallaght man's shot was well wide while Luke Byrne came close to scoring a spectacular own goal on 32 minutes.

Darren Meenan had been a constant threat to Rovers all night and he crafted the opening goal five minutes before half-time, his free-kick was perfectly flighted for Hoban and the big striker had a free header to power home his 19th goal of the season.

Hoban threatened again in the second half but his missed chances proed costly as Sheppard pounced on 80 minutes to grab the equaliser. Seán O'Connor made the vital intervention in central midfield, dispossessing Richie Towell, and O'Connor's ball was perfectly weighted for Sheppard to sprint through and slide his shot past Peter Cherrie.

Sheppard came up with the winner three minutes from time. Again the goal came from a breaking ball, Marty Watters supplying Sheppard with the pass, and while the striker had to work for the finish, he showed coolness to beat Cherrie for the winner.

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