SLIGO ROVERS ARE on the brink of the Setanta Cup final after handily beating St Patrick’s 2-0 in the first leg of their semi-final clash at The Showgrounds.
North blazed in the opener after 16 minutes following good harrying work from Aaron Greene. The striker received a pass from Greene, stepped inside his man and fired a low drive past Rene Gilmartin, who may have done better in keeping the fizzer out.
Kieran Djilali was an outstanding performer for Ian Baraclough’s men and his cross for Paul O’Connor almost led to the second goal, midway through the half, but Gilmartin got down smartly and clawed the effort away. Greene’s scampering run up the left wing teed up O’Connor for another pop at goal but he volleyed well over.
Rovers should have stretched their lead soon after the break but Sean Maguire somehow headed wide from five yards out. Mark Quigley responded with Saints’ first decent strike on goal but his shot from 25 yards out dipped too late to trouble goalkeeper Richard Brush. The home side hit back immediately but Maguire, looking short on confidence, dragged an effort wide when clean through on goal.
The next incident of note came on 70 minutes as James Chambers received his second yellow card and marching orders, leaving St Pat’s with 10 men for the final 20 minutes. A minute after his dismissal and Gilmartin smartly blocked a North shot before O’Connor missed the rebound.
The league champions looked as if they would escape back to Dublin just a goal behind but North got in behind their defence and finished past Gilmartin from a narrow angle. Substitute John Russell was denied a third Rovers goal in injury time as Gilmartin once again came to his team’s rescue.
SLIGO ROVERS: R Brush; R Gaynor, J Henderson, A Keane, K Spillane; S Coneely, K Djilali, A Greene, P O’Connor, S Maguire, D North.
ST PATRICK’S: R Gilmartin; L Fitzgerald, D Foran, S Hoare, C McCormack; K Brennan, C Byrne, J Chambers, D Kavanagh, L Lynch; M Quigley.