A Rory Gaffney double and a late Aaron Greene goal saw Shamrock Rovers easily swat aside Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds.

The Hoops effectively sealed the points early in the second half when Gaffney scored twice in the space in three minutes. While substitute Greene added the gloss to a straight-forward victory for the Dubliners with one minute remaining at the end of the game.

With an ever-growing injury list, Sligo boss John Russell made two enforced changes from their defeat to Bohs on Friday night. Midfielder Lukas Browning returned for his first start in four games, while full back Danny Lafferty deputised at the heart of defence with Russell having no fit first team centre halves at his disposal.

Very much the form team going into this encounter, the visitors made three changes from their defeat of Dundalk. Farrugia, Sean Gannon and Sligo academy graduate Johnny Kenny all returning to the fold.

The home side found themselves somewhat fortunate to have got to the break scoreless as Stephen Bradley's men provided the much more dominant threat.

Targeting Sligo’s right side, Neil Farrugia found plenty of joy. He fired an early warning shot at Luke McNicholas. While Jack Byrne wasn’t far away with an effort five minutes in.

The hosts had their best chance of the half on ten minutes when Frank Liivak managed to get on the end of a cross from the end line by from a determined Reece Hutchinson. The Estonian driving narrowly wide although it looked like the shot had taken a touch off a Hoops defender on its way.

The champions continued to press down that left side and the visiting supporters thought Kenny had scored against his old club on twelve minutes. The Celtic loanee forcing an impressive stop from McNicholas after Kenny had got on the end of Farrugia’s next ball into the area.

Rory Gaffney of Shamrock Rovers, 20, celebrates

There were further chances for Shamrock Rovers through Farrugia, Lee Grace and Markus Poom as the Dubliners continued their search for an opener. Kenny again foiled by a superb stop from McNicholas six minutes from the break.

Farrugia was once more afforded space before the former UCD man found Kenny whose bullet header was somehow pushed away by another wonderful stop from McNicholas. The Mayo man shifting his weight at the last possible moment to bat away the chance.

The Connacht side relied on McNicholas again five minutes into the re-start when he got a hand to another Byrne drive after Rory Gaffney did well to spot a late run from the Irish international.

But Sligo’s resolve eventually broke eight minutes into the second period. They stood off and allowed Kenny in around the back. The Riverstown native picking out Gaffney at the back post who was left with a straight forward, close-range finish.

Gaffney had his brace three minutes later when Byrne played a delightful ball over the top and into the path of the Tuam man. Gaffney controlling the ball before composing himself to slot past McNicholas.

Hit by their lengthy injury list, Sligo were limited in terms of what they could bring off the bench in their efforts to find a way back into this tie. While the champions were afforded the luxury of introducing title winning names with Greene, Sean Kavanagh and Graham Burke all brought on.

The latter had McNicholas at full reach again five minutes from time as the Tallaght side looked to put things to bed.

While Greene did exactly that one minute from time when he netted the Hoops’ third.

Sligo Rovers: Luke McNicholas; Johan Brannefalk, Danny Lafferty, Niall Morahan, Reece Hutchinson; Lukas Browning, David Cawley; Frank Liivak (Stefan Radosavljevic 61), Will Fitzgerald; Kailin Barlow (Owen Elding 81); Max Mata.

Shamrock Rovers: Leon Pohls; Lee Grace, Daniel Cleary (Sean Hoare 76), Roberto Lopes; Sean Gannon (Sean Kavanagh 65) , Neil Farrugia; Gary O'Neill, Markus Poom, Jack Byrne (Justin Ferizaj 87); Johnny Kenny (Graham Burke 65); Rory Gaffney (Aaron Greene 65).

Referee: Rob Hennessy