Sligo's final destination!
THE BIT O'Red have the bit between their teeth and will go all the way and win the FAI Cup final to complete a remarkable double this season.
That was the view of Sligo Rovers star Gavin Peers today after Paul Cook's Sligo side deservedly earned a place in next month's FAI Cup final -- where they will face either Shamrock Rovers or St Pats -- thanks to last night's superb 1-0 win away to league champions Bohemians.
Bohs, who have already won the Setanta Cup this season, went into the game thinking that the semi against Sligo could lead them to a Cup final appearance and a possible treble this season, if of course the Gypsies can win the league title as well.
But instead it's Sligo, current holders of the League Cup, who march onto the final in the new Lansdowne Road next month as a goal from Dubliner Peers 15 minutes from time gave Sligo and their large travelling support the win they deserved.
It's a while since Bohs have been so outplayed at home and it would have been a travesty if the Gypsies had managed a win or even a replay as Sligo were the better side from start to finish. The fact was acknowledged magnanimously by the Bohs fans as they applauded Sligo boss Cook and his players -- including former Bohs hero Joseph Ndo -- off the pitch at the end of a superb game, as an in-form Sligo claimed their fifth straight win in a run which has seen them lose just once in their last 17 games.
"We have started to believe that we are a good side. Hopefully we can go one step further than last season and win the Cup this year. We certainly believe we're good enough to win it no matter who we play," said Peers, referring of course to last year's traumatic Cup final defeat to Sporting Fingal.
"We came out here knowing we were good enough to win. We have been putting on good performances all season and we came up with another one last night.
"We dominated most of our games against Bohs this season but didn't get the goals at the right time, but we did that last night.
"We deserved the win. We don't always get what we deserve, it's happened to us a few times against Shams and Bohs this season but thankfully we got the goal and the win last night.
"I was delighted to get the goal. I know I don't score too many but that was probably the most important goal of my career as it got us into the final, and on a personal level I hope I can go on and do myself justice in the Aviva Stadium this time and help me forget what happened the last time I played there," added Peers, a reference to his display for the League of Ireland XI against Manchester United on the opening night of the new stadium in August when a dreadful defensive error from Peers gifted United the first of their seven goals.
"I'm trying to forget about that United game, I just want us to go on and win the Cup now.
The Bohs players had said before the game that the bigger prize of a possible league title on offer over the final two league games of the season would not distract them from the chance to reach the Cup final, take part in the first final at the shiny new Lansdowne Road and also seal a possible treble for the club.
But Bohs never showed what they are made of here as the intensity of their recent wins over Shamrock Rovers and St Pats, which put them top of the league table for the first time this season, dropped off and instead it was Sligo who had all the swagger and confidence.
It sums up the game that an off-colour Bohs had just one shot on target in 90 minutes -- a first-half effort from former Sligo player Raff Cretaro -- while Bohs only stayed in the game until the 75th minute due to some superb goalkeeping from Barry Murphy.
The Bohs keeper first denied Romuald Boco on 14 minutes, pulled off a stunning double save to deny Gary McCabe and then Matt Blinkhorn on 36 minutes, and Bohs had nothing much to offer in response as Richie Ryan and Ndo dominated in midfield.
As the game entered the final 15 minutes, thoughts did turn to a possible replay on Monday but then Peers popped up, unmarked, to finish from Ryan's corner kick and that goal sealed Bohs' fate.
"I don't think it's fair to say that Bohs were switched off. We have been the better side against Bohs most times this season and just didn't get the breaks, so we knew we could come here and win.
"We could have won by a lot more. It should have been over as a contest at half-time but we got the win and we're in the final now.
"It's really something to look forward to.
"We can still qualify for Europe through the league as well and that's our aim over the next two matches. We're a point ahead of Fingal now so we want to make sure we finish third," added Peers.