Shamrock Rovers 9 – 0 Wexford FC.
The goalscorers were: Dean Williams (3), Dean Dillon (2), Brandon Kavanagh (2), Aaron Bolger, Richie English.
The play was cautious from both sides in the early stages of the game but gradually the Hoops began to take complete control of midfield. Eric Abulu believed he had won a penalty in the 7th minute as also did the Wexford defender who fouled him but the assistant referee had already called for offside.
Dean Dillon then had the opportunity to open the scoring but Wexford ‘keeper Colum Feeney managed to parry the striker’s effort.
Emmanuel Lawal on the right and Abulu on the left were getting in some great balls for the strikers but at the same time the midfield trio of Brandon Kavanagh, Aaron Bolger and team captain Harry Cornally were tearing through the centre like terriers.
The first goal came in the 16th minute after Kavanagh picked out Williams with a ball over the defence, the diminutive striker took it around the ‘keeper and fired home.
There was a seven minute period before the Hoops scored again but during this time they were rampant. Some terrific work involving Lawal and Kavanagh allowed Williams to cut in on the right and strike from a narrow angle; Feeney got a touch to it but Dillon had come through on the other side and seized on the ball to strike home number two.
Wexford fell apart after that and Kavanagh again provided Williams with the chance to net number three.
On the 30 minute mark it was 4-0. Lawal, from the back carried the ball upfield before releasing it to Williams who was in a deep position in the middle of the park, Williams switched quickly to Dillon who picked out Kavanagh who then scored at close range.
One minute later it was 5-0 after Williams headed home.
Dillon and Bolger broke through the Wexford defence in a move that saw Dillon slot past Feeney to make it 6-0.
There was a suspicion of offside but it related to Bolger who wasn’t interfering with play which is why the assistant referee did not raise his flag. In a rare Wexford attack Ciaran Murphy forced Kian Clarke into a diving one-hand save.
There was to be no respite for the Wexford lads though as Dillon put a ball across the box, Bolger let it go as he heard Kavanagh’s call and the latter then sent a pile-driver into the back of the net to make it 7-0.
It must have been so difficult for the Wexford manager to pick his players up at half time but for the second half they put a lot of energy into trying to squeeze the play upfield.
With the Hoops under no pressure and happy enough to hold possession in their own half at times there was some respite for the visitors. However, Aiden Price’s lads were not finished yet and Bolger swooped with a fine effort in the 55th minute to put the Hoops eight up.
Substitute Richie English struck in the 81st minute with a 20-yard shot to get the ninth and final goal of the game.
In one sense the easy win won’t have been of much benefit to Rovers as they face a very tough assignment next week away to Cork City but Price was able to use a full compliment of substitutes and will surely be pleased that his side held the ball well, moved it around a lot and kept a clean sheet. It was a good way to begin the (delayed) start to their season.
The Hoops lined out as follows:
1. Kian Clarke, 16. Cian Collins, 18. Sean Callan, 5. Conor Gleeson, 21. Aaron Bolger, 8. Harry Cornally, 7. Brandon Kavanagh, 17. Emmanuel Lawal, 3. Eric Abulu, 19. Dean Williams, 9. Dean Dillon. Substitutes: 10. Adam Kenny, 10. Richie English (for Bolger 74 mins), 14. Evan Smithers (for Cornally 59 mins), 15. Evan White (for Kavanagh 74 mins), 11. Kenny Cunningham (for Lawal 59 mins), 4. Adam O’Connor, 20. Clayton Walsh (for Williams 74 mins).
Match pics here
Report and images by Robert Goggins.