Letterkenny Rovers 3 Derry City 1
A competent and assured display from Letterkenny Rovers saw them defeat Derry City Reserves 3-1 to qualify for the League Cup semi finals on a blustery afternoon at Leckview Park.
Rovers came into the game knowing they needed a win to qualify from the group while a draw would have done Derry but in the end it was a comfortable afternoon for Eamon McConigley’s side who will be away to Bonagee in the semi.
It was the home side who almost went in front after just four minutes but Matty Harkin just failed to get on the end of a teasing Johnny Bonner free kick while Citys Jack Malone had a super effort well saved by Rory Kelly in the Rovers goal after six minutes as the game got off to an explosive start.
That set the tone for what was an enjoyable footballing spectacle despite the windy conditions and it was Rovers who were on the front foot throughout with Declan Sharkey shooting straight at City netminder Nathan Gartside on 17 minutes after being teed up by Harkin while a neat free flowing move on 22 minutes between Conor Tourish, Sharkey and the lively Kevin McGrath ended with Odhran McMacken smacking a cracking effort off the top of the crossbar while McMacken spurned another chance minutes later following a quick breakaway move.
Jack Malone then tried his luck with a free kick but shot straight at Kelly before Rovers took the lead on 39 minutes when Conor Tourish headed home a superbly delivered Jonny Bonner corner.
That corner came about after Christy Connaghans rasper following yet another free flowing move was well saved by Gartside in the City goal.
Rovers were dominant in the closing stages of the half and created a number of openings the best of which saw McGrath play Sharkey in but his shot was smothered by the City defence while Chris Malseed was involved as an effort rebounded off him and hit the post.
Adrian Delap came close for City with a tame shot while Jonny Bonner shot just wide but Rovers were content to go in at the interval ahead.
The second half started with Roves on the front foot and McGrath sent Sharkey through on 47 minutes but he shot over when well placed while a combination of good defending and a Gartside save saw Matty Harkin, Chris Malseed and McMacken all fail to convert in a frenetic goalmouth scramble on 54 minutes but Rovers did double their advantage on 56 minutes when McGrath capped a fine display with a goal when shooting low to the corner after being teed up by Sharkey.
Sharkey had a couple of chances to extend the lead but failed to convert while City came closest when Kian McGarvey flashed one just wide on 73 minutes.
That may have changed the game but it was Rovers who added the insurance goal on 73 minutes when BJ Banda - on his return from Finn Harps - scored at the second attempt when netting from close range.
Derry did try to stage a comeback and got one back with a fine Ronan McKinley goal on 79 following some good work by McGarvey, but it was Rovers who saw the game out well with the defence well marshalled by the impressive Tourish and Ryan McConnell book their last 4 spot while also giving senior debuts to late subs Gavin McGee, Jonathan Coady and Kealan Dunleavy.
Both sides have a free weekend next week due to the intermediate cup while the league proper gets going in a fortnight.
Letterkenny Rovers: Rory Kelly, Chris Flanagan, Jonny Bonner, Conor Tourish, Ryan McConnell, Kevin McGrath, Odhran McMacken, Chris Malseed, Matty Harkin, Christy Connaghan, Declan Sharkey. Subs used: BJ Banda, Darren Mcelwaine, Gavin McGee, Johnathan Coady, Kealan Dunleavy.
Derry City Reserves: Nathan Gartside, Rhys McDermott, Conor Gormley, Conor Doherty, Kieran Farren Jack Malone, Evan Tweed, Sean McBride, Shane McNamee, Adrian Delap, Kian McGarvey. Subs used: Mikey Friel, Ethan Harkin, Ronan McKinley, Odhran Kennedy, Liam McFadden
Referee: Marty Quinn.
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