Two of the form teams in the Airtricity Premier Division, both Bohs and Sligo came into the game on the hunt for multiple silverware. Rovers already have the League Cup in the bag while Bohemians, with the Setanta Cup secure, were eyeing up a league and cup double which had appeared improbable until they sensationally overtook Shamrock Rovers at the top last week.
From the off, it was clear that two of the best footballing sides in the country would endeavour to prevail by playing to their strengths. Bohs dominated the early stages, some superb passing moves lacking only a sufficiently precise final ball. But it was Sligo who produced the first big chance of the game, Matthew Blinkhorn’s perfect angled ball over the top outwitting left-back Conor Powell and putting Romauld Boco in on goal.
But while the Benin international chose the right option by trying to lob the advancing Barry Murphy, his execution lacked finesse and the ball dipped harmlessly over the top.
Sligo’s confidence was boosted by the chance nonetheless and, to the roars of their travelling support, Boco was soon on the surge again, this time forcing Murphy to get down quickly to hold his powerful low drive.
With Sligo increasingly threatening, all the game lacked up to half-time was a goal, and Bohemians had double cause to thank Barry Murphy for that, the ‘keeper doing well to parry a long-range effort from Gary McCabe and then reacting even more impressively to deny Blinkhorn.
The visitors upped the pressure even more after the break forcing Pat Fenlon to make a tactical change as Mark Quigley replaced Jason Byrne and Bohs went 4-5-1 with Cretaro as the lone man up front.
For their part, Sligo repeatedly targeted young sub Roberto Lopez with raking passes to the far corner, a tactic which threatened to reap rewards on a number of occasions for wide man Gary McCabe.
Fenlon made his final throw of the dice in the 72nd minute when Paddy Madden replaced Cretaro but, before the young striker could even get a feel of the ball, Paul Cook’s side deservedly took the lead.
From the third of three corners in a row, Richie Ryan found the head of Gavin Peers in the box and, at full stretch, the defender managed to find the inside of the far post to send the Rovers fans at the other end of the ground into ecstasy – and Sligo into their second cup final in succession.
BOHEMIANS: Murphy, Rossiter (Lopez 33), Oman, Shelley, Powell, Brennan, Keegan, Cronin, McGlynn, Cretaro, Byrne (Quigley 51)
SLIGO ROVERS: Kelly, Keane, Peers, Lauchlan, Davoren, Boco (Ventre 82), Ryan, Ndo, McCabe, (Doyle 87), Russell, Blinkhorn (O’ Grady 90).
Referee: Alan Kelly (Cork)