Rogers at Sligo's media day during the week. INPHO/Cathal Noonan
big day

FAI Cup final: Rogers aiming to continue Sligo's tradition of goalkeeping heroics

The Sligo Rovers number one believes a win in the Aviva Stadium this afternoon will make up for missing out on back-to-back league titles.

FAI Ford Cup final: Drogheda United v Sligo Rovers 3.30pm, Aviva Stadium

IN BOTH OF SLIGO Rovers’ most recent FAI Cup final triumphs, the role of the goalkeeper proved absolutely crucial.

The 2010 showcase saw the Bit O’Red and Shamrock Rovers play out a 0-0 stalemate after 120 minutes, resulting in a penalty shootout.

Step forward Ciaran Kelly. The Sligo stopper did the incredible by saving all four of the Hoops’ spot-kicks to hand the club a first victory in the competition in 16 years.

Twelve months down the line and the Castlebar native was at it once again. The opponents this time were Shelbourne while the score was level at 1-1 when spot-kicks were called upon. Brendan Clarke started between the sticks for Sligo that day but Paul Cook made a brave and unusual call to replace him after extra time.

Incredibly, it paid off as Kelly got his body behind efforts from Kevin Dawson and Colm James to become the hero for the second successive year.

These days also acting as goalkeeping coach, Kelly will travel to Lansdowne Road today for the meeting with Drogheda United knowing he will once again have to settle for a place on the bench.

While he would love nothing more than to be out there, he isn’t bitter and accepts that the form of current number one Gary Rogers has been top drawer.

“Gary has been doing a fantastic job all season. He has got a ridiculous amount of clean sheets and has been breaking record after record and we wish him all the best in the final.

“It’s my job (to push him in training) and I do get satisfaction when Gary keeps a clean sheet. He’s a good lad off the field and deserves credit and praise for what he has done all season.

Sometimes you have goalkeeper competition and one might have a grudge but that is not the case between us.

“Hopefully he keeps the goals out on Sunday and we win the game, which would match our 2010 record of not conceding a goal in the whole competition.”


Kelly lifting the trophy in 2011. Credit: INPHO/Donall Farmer

Looking at Rogers’ statistics, it is hard to disagree with his understudy. Sligo have amassed an amazing 26 clean sheets this season and have yet to concede in the FAI Cup this term.

The 32-year-old may have been pipped to a place on the PFAI Team of the Year by St Pat’s stopper Brendan Clarke but is happy with his own recent form.

“Statistically, this season has been the most successful one I have had so I’m happy with the way I’m playing.

“It is nice to get into these teams. I got into [the Team of the Year] last year but Brendan Clarke and Peter Cherrie both had good seasons. I’m just delighted that I’m playing football and playing well.”

2012 Premier Division champions Sligo have been unable to hit the heights of the last few years after finishing third and falling just short in the EA Sports and Setanta Cups.

This afternoon represents the last chance for both them and Drogheda to earn a piece of silverware and Rogers knows it will go some way to shaping how 2013 is looked back upon.

“Sunday’s result is vital to how we will view the season,” he says. “If you were to go and win you would look upon the season as a pretty successful one with an FAI Cup win and third in the league.

“It wasn’t really what we wanted and although we were in contention all the way, Pat’s were that little bit more consistent through the middle of the season where we had a little bit of dip and that probably hurt us.

So we’ve been in contention on all fronts this year. It’s just disappointing that we didn’t make a better stab at it in the league. If we had an FAI Cup win, it would make up for that.”

Rodgers spent four years with Drogs from 2001 to 2005 and knows that they will be extremely difficult to break down, insisting the 3-1 win earlier this month won’t have any bearing.

“You couldn’t read too much into that game as we both had six or seven changes that night. We know that Drogheda will work hard and they have got threats all over the place. Declan O’Brien is still scoring plenty of goals and the midfield is still very strong.

“We have the utmost respect for Drogheda as you don’t get to three cup finals if you’re a bad team but we will be more focused on what we can do to hurt them.”

  • Sligo Rovers defender Alan Keane is auctioning off his signed jersey in aid of Spina Bifida Ireland. Having raised €2,200 for Console last year, he met a young Bit O’Red mascot named Leah who suffers from the disorder and immediately admired her “happy-go-lucky” demeanour. The auction will end on Saturday, 9 November and those who would like to either bid or simply donate as much or as little as they like, can do so on Alan’s page

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