Letterkenny Rovers who beat Home Farm on Sunday. Photo: Stephen Doherty
Two years after their first ever appearance in an FAI Intermediate Cup final, Letterkenny Rovers are dreaming of another return to the Aviva Stadium following Sunday’s quarter-final win over Home Farm at Leckview Park.
Letterkenny Rovers . . . 2
Home Farm . . . 0
With former Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern among the crowd to support the Dublin side, Letterkenny Rovers had too much for their opponents and were worthy winners.
Darren McElwaine scored the two goals, the first from a free kick on 32 minutes, the second from the penalty spot on 67.
And while ‘Macca’ was the match winner, this victory was built on a solid team performance and the home side never really looked in any danger over the 90 minutes.
That said, Home Farm were almost in front on six minutes when Eoin Murray’s long range free came crashing back off the crossbar.
In a lively opening, Rovers also went close with Pajo Rafferty’s corner headed goalwards by Ryan McConnell only for the ball to be taken off the line by Christy Dolan.
Home Farm carried plenty of threat coming forward in that first half but Rovers got their noses in front shortly after the half hour when Darren McElwaine’s free kick went through the wall and into the bottom corner. It was a woeful goal to concede from Home Farm’s perspective and it was a big moment in the tie.
McElwaine and Rafferty continued to cause the visitors plenty of problems at the back while Paul McVeigh and Christy Conaghan were also very prominent for Letterkenny.
The second half failed to deliver in terms of any real excitement. The expected response from Home Farm just never materialised and the loss of a couple of key players - including their goalkeeper - to injury, also had a big impact on their chances.
Once Letterkenny doubled their lead at the end of the third quarter, Home Farm looked a beaten docket. McVeigh was fouled just as he was about to shoot on goal and from the penalty, McElwaine converted with confidence.
Rovers were comfortable from there to the finish. Home Farm - who actually made six substitutions over the 90 minutes, one more than what is allowed - managed only one notable effort on goal in the closing period, but Rory Kelly saved Christy Doran’s free kick.
For Rovers, beaten finalists in 2016, the attention now turns to the draw for the cup semi-finals which will be held in Dublin a week on Tuesday.
Letterkenny Rovers: Rory Kelly, Ryan Lonergan (Garvan Grant 77), Ryan Gildean, Ryan McConnell, Conor Tourish, Kevin McGrath (Chris Malseed 70), Paul McVeigh, Christy Conaghan, Darren McElwaine (Odhran McMacken 72), David Shovlin, Pajo Rafferty (Luke Nelis 91) .
Home Farm: Peter Halpin (Liam Woodcock 55), Stephen O'Sullivan, Fintan Kerins, James Duff (Patrick Davis 83), Jack McMullen (Mark O'Brien 42), Eoin Murray, Matt McEntee (Aaron O'Dwyer 63), Colin Richardson (Bernard Ogere 61), Sean Goulding, Bradley Hand (Ross Coyle 75), Christy Doran.
Referee: Marty McGarrigle