Cherry Orchard 0 Letterkenny Rovers 3
By Kieran McGrath
Letterkenny Rovers secured an emphatic 3-0 win over top flight Leinster Senior League side Cherry Orchard and in doing so have booked their spot in the FAI intermediate Cup quarter finals for the second time in three seasons.
Rovers bossed proceedings from the outset and almost got off to a perfect start on eight minutes but Paul McVeigh saw his superbly hit volley go just over after some neat play between David Shovlin and Pajo Rafferty.
Cherry Orchard goalkeeper Shane Fagan then pulled off two outstanding stops from a Conor Tourish header on 19 minutes and a David Shovlin rasper which burned the keepers fingertips while Tourish had to be at his best defensively when blocking a Jack O’Connor effort just after the half hour mark.
The Donegal side also had claims for a handball waved away by match referee Owen Murphy who deemed there had been an initial push by a Rovers attacker and it was the Donegal side who may have regretted not being ahead at the break as it ended scoreless while Rovers were also forced to replace defender Ryan McConnell after he suffered an impact injury after a wild lunge on him by Anto Shortt,
Rovers though got a huge slice of fortune in the opening stages of the second half when somehow Mark Sandford failed to connect from just two yards out with the goal gaping wide after O’Connors initial shot had hit the post as he weaved his way through the Rovers defence and Rovers made full use of that let off when taking the lead on 57 minutes.
The lead goal came after the highly impressive Paul McVeigh was fouled by Dean Brennan and the resulting free kick from Pajo Rafferty was met by Tourish and he powered home a header giving Fagan no chance. indeed McVeigh was causing plenty of headaches for Brennan and was a handful throughout for the host defence.
Rovers doubled their lead on 71 minutes and almost put the game to bed when a quick break from defence saw Kevin McGrath release Ryan Lonergan and he ran into the box before unleashing a low shot to the net.
The win was copperfastened on 76 minutes when Rafferty fired home a thunderous effort from the edge of the box to seal the win.
An excellent win for Eamon McConigley’s men who no doubt will await this week’s quarter final draw with interest.
Cherry Orchard; Shane Fagan, Dean Brennan, Nathan wells, Marc Notaro, Jack Memery, Dean Murphy, Anto Shortt, Sean Dixon, Jack O’Connor, Mark Sandford, Jonathan Kelly.
Subs; Niall Forrester for Shortt 40 mins, Daniel Mcguinness for Wells 65 mins, Lorcan Shannon for Brennan 74 mins.
Letterkenny Rovers; Rory kelly, Ryan Lonergan, Ryan Gildea, Ryan McConnell, Conor Tourish, David Shovlin, Paul McVeigh, Kevin McGrath, Darren McElwaine, Christy Connaghan, Pajo Rafferty.
Subs; Chris Malseed for McConnell 45 mins, Odhran McMacken for McElwaine 73 mins, Chris Flanagan for Lonergan 81 mins, Luke Nelis for Shovlin 85 mins
Referee; Owen Murphy.