The Hoops made it to their sixth successive semi-final of the EA Sports Cup last season when they defeated Longford Town. They welcome the same oppostion to Tallaght Stadium on Tuesday in the second round of this season’s competition (kick off 7.45pm).
A victory would give them a welcome boost ahead of their trip to Derry on Friday and the visit of champions Cork City to Tallaght next Monday, especially as Rovers are without a win in four games.
Last Friday, they did stop the rot of three successive defeats in the league when they drew at home with Limerick.
“Friday’s result against Limerick was very disappointing,” said Hoops Head Coach Stephen Bradley speaking to shamrockrovers.ie. “I thought we played excellently. We created several chances and could have been three or four up.
“We just weren’t able to take our chances and they had the one chance and took it at the end and got the draw. On another night it would have been a completely different story, so it’s frustrating.”
Bradley will likely have one eye on the upcoming league fixtures and a number of the Rovers under 19 players may be asked to step up on Tuesday but he won’t want to dilute his team too much to jeopardise progress in this competition.
In last season’s League Cup fixture between the sides, teenager Dean Dillon scored his first senior goal for the Hoops in their 1-0 win.
“We’ll have to take a look at the squad on Tuesday to assess where we are. A couple of knocks were picked up on Friday and there’s some players still coming back from injuries so we’re still uncertain about some of the lads.
“We have a very busy schedule coming up so it’s going to be difficult but we have the depth and the lads are ready to step in.
“Longford are a good side, we played them in pre-season so we know they’ve a good squad and what they can do. They’re competing in a very close First Division so it won’t be an easy game.”
Longford would earn themselves a quarter-final trip to Cobh if they can overcome Shamrock Rovers. De Town come into the game on the back of a 2-0 defeat to UCD in last Friday’s First Division clash.
That was their first home loss of the season and opened up a seven point gap between themselves and the Students who sit top of the table.
“It was really disappointing,” said manager Neil Fenn speaking to the Longford Leader after the game. “Definitely our worst performance this season and not what we are about.
"We need to be a lot better than what we were against UCD if we are to be involved in the hunt for promotion.”
Longford have already travelled to Tallaght this year. They met the Hoops in a pre-season friendly back in February when Rovers won 3-1. Sam Verdon scored for the Town with Roberto Lopes, Aaron Bolger and Graham Burke scoring for the Hoops.
Former Hoop player Darren Meenan is available again to Fenn after recent injury struggles.
However Fenn is still missing defender Shane Elworthy and midfielder Peter Hopkins who are both still a few weeks away from being able to rejoin the squad. Cian Byrne picked up an injury in training last week and is out and Shane O’Connor is another absentee.
Rovers have only lifted the League Cup on two occasions (1976/77 and 2013) with Longford lifting the trophy just once (2004).
Longford Town’s joint record league victory came against Shamrock Rovers’ B team – a 6-0 win in May 2014 en-route to winning the First Division title. Current Rovers player Gary Shaw was on the scoresheet for De Town in that 6-0 victory.
Neale Fenn played 11 competitive games, nine in the league, with Shamrock Rovers towards the end of the 2010 title winning season.
Shamrock Rovers 1/6; Draw 9/2; Longford Town 10/1.
2-0 home win
Injured: Trevor Clarke.
Doubtful: Luke Byrne, Sean Boyd.
Injured: Peter Hopkins, Shane Elworthy, Cian Byrne, Shane O’Connor.