Dave Winter/INPHO
As it happened: Gent v Shamrock Rovers, Europa Conference League
The Hoops were in Belgium for this evening’s clash.

Gent 3-0 Shamrock Rovers

Hello, and welcome to The42‘s live coverage of Shamrock Rovers’ Europa Conference League clash away to Gent.

Paul Fennessy is on the ground for us in Belgium as Stephen Bradley’s side make their first away trip in Group F. They’re hoping to become the first Premier Division side ever to win an away group stage game in Europe. 

Kick-off at the Ghelamco Arena is 5.45pm — it’s live on Virgin Media Two, and we’ll have updates here throughout.

TRADITIONALLY, these types of opportunities don’t come along very often for League of Ireland clubs.

To compete in the group stages of the competition is still just something that has only been managed four times ever by Irish clubs — Dundalk in 2016 and 2020, along with Shamrock Rovers in 2011 and now.

As seismic as Rovers’ achievement was just over a decade ago in terms of its impact on Irish football at a broader level and how it was perceived increasingly for the better, there is a strong sense that the Hoops did not fully build on that landmark step at the time and instead went backwards, struggling to maintain those high standards subsequently.

Stephen Bradley now has the club at a comparable level again and there is a real feeling of conviction and confidence when it comes to assessing this multi-title-winning side.

There’s no shortage of pre-match reading available on The42, courtesy of Paul Fennessy.

Gent are the group’s top seeds, but Rovers are eyeing history — and more points — after last week’s draw with Djurgarden at Tallaght Stadium. All four teams in Group F are on a point a-piece after last week’s goal-less stalemates. 

Bradley has named a strong XI, with Jack Byrne starting in front of a sizeable travelling crowd. Five minutes or so until kick-off.

shamrock-rovers-fans Dave Winter / INPHO Dave Winter / INPHO / INPHO

a-view-of-shamrock-rovers-fans-ahead-of-the-game Dave Winter / INPHO Dave Winter / INPHO / INPHO

a-view-of-the-ghelamco-stadium-ahead-of-the-game Dave Winter / INPHO Dave Winter / INPHO / INPHO

Kick-off: We’re underway.

3 mins – Gent threatening early on here. Ronan Finn and Chris McCann with two important interceptions. The latter one leads to a corner, from which a glancing, looping header from Joradan Torunarigha nearly catches Alan Mannus out but clips off the crossbar. A sigh of relief for the visitors.

6 mins - Gent are well in control early on, buoyed by their vocal home support. The stadium is nowhere near full, but they’ll do their best to create a hostile environment.

8 mins – Better from Rovers, as they spend a little more time in Gent’s half. Ronan Finn found himself in a lot of space on the edge of the box, but Jack Byrne was slow in finding him after a heavy touch. Gent intervene and get on the break, but a poor pass lets them down.

Goal! Gent 1-0 Shamrock Rovers (Hugo Cuypers, 9 mins)

Just as Rovers looked to be getting a bit of a foothold on the game, Gent take the lead. A slick team move was finished off by in-form striker Hugo Cuypers. A lovely pass from Hong Hyun-seok in the build-up, brought down by Malick Fofana, who tees up Cuypers.

12 mins - Rovers doing their best to respond, but they look nervy on the ball as Gent find their groove.

GOAL! Gent 2-0 Shamrock Rovers (Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe, 18 mins)

A horror show at the back for Rovers, the stuff of nightmares. Mannus plays it out to Dan Cleary from the kick-out, who slips, he does well to get a block on Cuypers, but the ball falls to Odjidja-Ofoe on the edge of the box, who fires home a superb volley.

22 mins – An eventful start, a dreadful one for Rovers. Rory Gaffney has been isolated up top, he wins a corner after a better team move. Can they create something here?

24 mins - It’s a smartly-worked corner, but ultimately Cuypers produces a wonderful defensive header to clear Gent’s lines.

Mannus makes a perhaps unnecessary save at the other end as Gent’s latest shot appears to be tailing wide, but better safe than sorry. They’ve been very dangerous. The stats? Gent 8 attempts, Rovers 0. The hosts have had two on target, two goals.

28 mins - Ronan Finn is flagged offside, disappointing with Rovers in decent position. It was Jack Byrne who found the captain down the right. Shortly after, the Irish international sends in a free-kick but it’s easily cleared.

33 mins - To be fair to Rovers, they’re not having the worst of spells after the early two-goal deficit. There’s a bit of needle coming into it, with the referee happy to let things go and steer clear of the whistle at times, Gaffney the latest to feel hard done by.

37 mins - A superb tackle from Ronan Finn there, after Gary O’Neill gave the ball away. Rovers are much more settled and putting a few good spells together. McCann produces a lovely turn to sell a Gent player and initiate an attack, he finds Gaffney down the right and the cavalry arrives but the move ultimately breaks down. Better, but still no real end product.

41 mins - McCann is caught late, before Cleary is nearly caught out once more. It’s much further out the field than last time, but he really needs to get up to the pace of the game. Gent enjoying the lions’ share of possession once more.

44 mins - More carless, sloppy play from Rovers as Grace gives the ball away and Gent look to punish once more. Nothing comes off it in the end, but hey’ll take that all day.

Mannus makes a good save after a nice long-range strike from Torunarigha.

HALF-TIME: Gent 2-0 Shamrock Rovers 

Bradley appears to protest as the whistle goes just before the completion of the full 45, but perhaps he’ll be happy to just regroup amidst the reprieve.

gary-oneill-dejected Dave Winter / INPHO Dave Winter / INPHO / INPHO

“Rovers struggling to stay afloat in Gent this evening,” Tommy Martin on Virgin Media says. A horrible first half for the Hoops, two goals down. They’ve been sloppy and wide open at times, but that’s not taking away from how good Gent have been either.

SECOND HALF: Gent get us underway once more.

Sean Kavanagh comes in for Chris McCann, Gent have also made a change, which we’ll confirm shortly.

47 mins - Dylan Watts has Shamrock Rovers first shot on goal, one out of frustration above all else. It sails over. They’ve started brighter, Kavanagh looking lively. There’s some confusion between Lyons and Gaffney on the attack, but they’re looking more likely to create something.

The Gent change was Bruno Godeau for Torunarigha.

52 mins - O’Neill lets fly but the Gent ‘keeper easily claims. 

Almost out of nowhere, Gaffney forces another save with a superb effort. Kavanagh plays a ball in which eventually falls to the striker, who volleys first time wrapping his foot around the ball on the outside of the box. Frustrated up to now, that might but the wind in his sails.

55 mins - Rovers have been the better side since half time, stringing a few shots together and playing much brighter football.

58 mins - Gent hit back with a good move, their first goal-scorer Cuypers looking to flick the ball on on the edge of the box, but there’s no one there and it all breaks down. The same player has a go shortly after, their first real shot of the second half so far.

60 mins - Byrne looks to find Gaffney in behind, but the goalkeeper reads it well to cut it out and clear. Again, better from the visitors.

63 mins - Another good effort from the Hoops, Jack Byrne blazing over.

GOAL! Gent 3-0 Shamrock Rovers (Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe, 65 mins)

What a finish. But a real sucker-punch for Rovers, who had all the momentum. Top corner after an assist from Forana, lethal. But undoubtedly against the run of play of the second half.

70 mins - It’s game over for Rovers, but they won’t lie down. Byrne sends a lovely cross into the box, but Grace nods it wide. Shortly after, he’s blocking at the other end.

Aaron Greene is one for Watts amidst a raft of changes made after Gent’s third goal, the scorer among those making way:

Screen Shot 2022-09-15 at 19.11.07

75 mins – Gaffney really should have scored there. Bit of drama in the build-up, the Gent crowd unhappy play was allowed continue. One of their defenders played the ball back to the goalkeeper, before going down injured, but the ‘keeper played it back in his direction. Gaffney intercepts and feeds Gaffney, but he misses.

Yellow cards for Greene and Hauge in the aftermath.

Triple-change for Rovers: Graham Burke, Neil Farrugia and Justin Ferizaj in; Rory Gaffney, Ronan Finn and Jack Byrne come off.

Grace takes the armband.

78 mins - Kavanagh sees yellow for a cynical foul on Cuypers. Nurio Fortuna replaces Sven Kums for Gent.

Another Gent mistake at the back, Justin Ferizaj capitalises and has a shot himself from a tight enough angle on the right, but the youngster had options had he squared it.

81 mins - Mannus saves Hauge’s effort. It’s 2-2 in the group’s other game, by the way.

87 mins - Not a huge pile to report as the clock runs down. Greene tries to play Lyons in, but the pass is cut out. Gent counter, but don’t finish. They’re on the hunt for another, Rovers seeking a consolation.

89 mins – A superb run from Farrugia down the right but his weak cross is easily dealt with. There was an unsuccessful Gent corner just before that, and three minutes’ added time have just been announced. 

90+2 mins – It’s all but over, Mannus denying Hjulsager as the clock runs down. Got player down with a head injury, calls to stop play and that happens belatedly. A few more seconds, and that should be that.

FULL-TIME: Gent 3-0 Shamrock Rovers 

sean-gannon-and-malick-fofana Dave Winter / INPHO Dave Winter / INPHO / INPHO

And so, Shamrock Rovers 100th game in European football comes to a disappointing close. A much-improved second half, but the damage was done early on.

That’s all from me, but Paul Fennessy‘s match report from Gent will be on The42 shortly, with plenty of reaction, colour and analysis to follow. Bye!

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel