THEIR POOR early season form is a distant memory for Sligo Rovers supporters as the in-form club edge closer to their first major trophy success in 12 years.
And manager Paul Cook says he knew his Sligo side would come good this season despite a poor start to the campaign.
Pressure was building around the Showgrounds as Sligo, still coming to terms with last season's FAI Cup final loss, managed just two wins in the first 12 league games of the season and also limped out of the Setanta Sports Cup.
But Rovers have been on fire in the second half of the season with five wins in the last six games, a run that's seen them move into the top three of the Premier Division table.
Mid-season signings like Joseph Ndo, Romuald Boco, John Russell and Jim Lauchlan have all spurred Sligo on, and they are in confident mood as they take on league leaders Shamrock Rovers at the Showgrounds in the semi-final of the League Cup tonight, Sligo's best chance of a major trophy since they won the same competition in 1998.
"Supporters sometimes get carried away with results early on in the season," said Cook.
"At the start of the season I felt we were getting a lot of unfair criticism on the basis that we weren't getting results, yet at that stage of the season our performances were probably better than they have been of late, even though we are now getting the results
"People talk about managers being under pressure and teams not doing well and it amazes me at times because there is only one league table that matters and that is the one at the end of the season."
Sligo are without John Russell, Richard Brush and Mauro Almeida but Richie Ryan returns from suspension. Rovers are still without long term concerns Dessie Baker (Achilles) and Pat Sullivan (knee) while Neale Fenn is cup-tied.
In tonight's other semi-final, Dundalk aim to lift the gloom by getting into the final at the expense of a Monaghan United side who have impressed in Division One this year.
Dundalk have managed just one league win in 10 games but striker Faz Kudozovic feels that Ian Foster's men can put that form behind them.
"I think because it's a cup game you can relax a little bit and not worry about picking up points," Kuduzovic said. "I think if we play like we did in the first half against Fingal I wouldn't be worried at all. It's a good chance to get a trophy."