Commentary: By Eugene McGloin
1,583 SOULS paid into the Showgrounds to see Sligo Rovers face SSE Airtricity League leaders Cork City last night, Monday.
know they had 'soul' because they gave a spirited send-off with one
full minutes of applause for the late Eunan 'Busty' Blake.
was almost the first-ever name I knew in football; my dad brought home
the Derry Journal and line by line I loved the accounts of the 'foreign'
That 'foreign' team was Derry City, powered at various times in the 1960s by some good southerners.
Busty Blake from Letterkenny was one of them; Joey Wilson and Bobby Gilbert also quickly come to mind.
The Showgrounds offered an excellent programme feature on Busty Blake last night.
feature is also worth catching for the 1960 team photo which includes
Blake, his brother in law Tommy Oates, Willie Bradley, Ned Monds, Louis
Dykes and Johnny Armstrong.
Before all that, Cork City was welcomed to the Showgrounds as the team that was, eh, ''riding high.'' Hmmm.
The game itself: Rovers keeper Michael Schlingermann staked an early claim for Man of the Match.
In the opening five minutes, the Mayo man was called on to make three superb reflex saves at close range.
Cork rampaged in those early stages like they needed the goalposts to make a fire.
But it was Sligo who scored first, in the 23rd through its Player of the Season, Kieran Sadlier.
City keeper Mark McNulty has an extraordinary record of clean sheets
but last night Sadlier planted the penalty well beyond his reach.
'railway end' saw a second penalty award but ex Sligo player Seanie
Maguire of Cork City drove yards wide of the left hand post.
It was another ex Sligo player, Achille Campion, who equalised for Cork City in the 64th minute.
The Frenchman tipped in the simplest of goals, but those, too, all count in all grades of football.
simpler in execution was the inswinger Cork City corner kick which
eluded (almost) all of Sligo's defence with just nine minutes left.
Kevin O'Connor probably still couldn't believe his luck when the goal was later shown on RTE's ''Soccer Republic.''
Last night we saw a spirited performance in defence by Sligo Rovers. Their tireless efforts deserved a draw.
up front we saw a line sometimes lacking in basic skills and watching
it was like watching Sisyphus -- pushing a boulder uphill, forever to
roll back down.
That kinda forward line is what has Sligo parked at the rear of the queue, mired in the relegation zone.
The most notable feature of last night's game was the quanta of improvement in Seanie Maguire since his Showgrounds days.
strength, his shielding, his skill, his scoring; what the talent scouts
spotted in his juvenile career down south all now show a sparkle.
Maguire will make his third-time-lucky attempt to break the big time in England later this year. Good luck.
For Sligo Rovers last night the most marked factors were the absences of some quality players in the squad.
'engine' John Russell was sorely missed when the game might have swung
either way. Cork were no world beaters on view last night.
Also missing for Sligo was the energy of Tobi Adebayo-Rowling at the back, surging forward.
Cork needed to be stretched wider across the pitch -- and more often -- to utilise Sadlier's skills.
Tobi complements the current team's chances best in that role. He needs to be back, at the back, soon.
from taking three points in Sligo last night I'll be very surprised if
Cork City manager John Caulfield didn't take some note of Kieran
The Showgrounds has been Cork's lucky football hunting ground in their bid for the SSE Airtricity League title.
has captured Jimmy Keohane, Achille Campion, Seanie Maguire and Steven
Beattie of last night's unbeaten squad for Cork from Sligo.
Finally, there were five bookings, three for Sligo Rovers: Chris Kenny, Craig Roddan and Kyle Callan-McFadden.