Letterkenny Rovers eased into the last 16 of the FAI Umbro Youth Cup with a comprehensive victory at Roscommon Town on Saturday.
Roscommon Town 0
Letterkenny Rovers 5
Played in tough underfoot conditions, Rovers gave an accomplished performance spearheaded by their excellent midfielder Ryan McCloskey who scored twice and was the catalyst for this victory.
Further goals from Gavin McDaid, Sean McDonagh and Gareth Doherty emphasised the dominance of the away side although it did take them over half an hour to break down the Roscommon resistance.
Anthony Gorman’s young guns can now look forward to this week’s open draw and will be hopeful of matching last year’s performance, at least, in reaching the quarter-finals where they eventually went out to Castlebar Celtic in Mayo.
For the next few weeks, its back to local action in the Donegal Youth League and their quest to make it three league titles in a row but the form they showed in this match will keep confidence high within the camp.
The opening exchanges were evenly balanced before Rovers got a grip on proceedings.
Centre-back Jack Blake was posing real problems for the opposition from set pieces. In the space of a matter of minutes, he had a header narrowly go over the bar, saw a rasping strike rattle the crossbar and had a goal disallowed when one of his team-mates Liam Blaney was adjudged to have pushed a Roscommon player inside the box.
Blake and Blaney were their usual solid force in defence throughout the game.
But, the pressure told on 35 minutes when the creative Marty Vance escaped the attention of his marker before delivering an inch perfect cross into the box and Ryan McCloskey arrived right on cue to volley expertly into the net beyond goalkeeper Mark Keavney.
Within three minutes, it was 2-0. Vance again was the provider with another cross from the right side and on this occasion Gavin McDaid made a darting run towards the near post to divert his shot into the net.
The home side showed a brief resurgence early in the second half before the tie was put beyond any doubt on 65 minutes with a third Rovers goal.
Gareth Doherty drilled in a low corner which evaded everybody until it fell to McCloskey who was lurking at the back post before drilling home his second of the game.
It was a straight forward victory from that point onwards. Goalkeeper Jason Quinn was rarely tested throughout apart from a few sprints off his line to seal off any danger. He was alert for the duration of the match.
Substitute Sean McDonagh got it on the act with his first goal of the season latching onto a through ball from Noah Mailey before smashing home a right footed effort into the far corner of the net.
And the rout was complete when Gareth Doherty capped another industrious display in midfield hammering home a fifth goal from close range with ten minutes remaining on the clock.
McCloskey was unlucky in his efforts to grab a hat-trick while Kevin O’Donnell was a constant torture on the left flank for the opposition who finished the game with ten men late on following a red card to their right back Ryan Horan for dissent.
Roscommon Town – Mark Keavey, James Rogers, Ryan Horan, Shane Barron, Richard Hughes, Aiden Donegan, Oisin Sullivan, James McDonald, Evan Concar, Daryl O’Leary, Conor O’Malley. Subs used – Craig Lyons and Brian O’Malley.
Letterkenny Rovers – Jason Quinn, Conor Coll (Ryan McLaughlin on 66 mins) , Noah Mailey, Liam Blaney, Jack Blake, Ryan McCloskey, Simon McGlynn (Sean McDonagh on 70 mins) , Gareth Doherty, Marty Vance (Adrian Delap on 72 mins) , Gavin McDaid , Kevin O’Donnell.
Referee – Conor Fitzgerald (Athlone)