Report: Killian McHale

Shamrock Rovers travelled to the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium to face Derry City FC in the curtain raiser for the 2023 season, and it was the hosts who came out on top winning by two-goals-to-nil to claim the President’s Cup for the first time.

Stephen Bradley included three of his new signings in the starting-XI, with Marcus Poom, Johnny Kenny & Liam Burt all handed starts while Academy graduates Darragh Nugent and Kieran Cruise were also included from the off, featuring in both wing back roles.

It was the hosts who settled into the game the quicker of the sides, pressing Rovers high in their half and not allowing the Rovers back three with any time on the ball. Despite Derry’s quick start, neither side were able to create any clear cut opportunities, until the 23rd minute when the hosts broke the deadlock.

Michael Duffy found space down the left channel, before finding Derry captain Will Patching who fired home from 10 yards inside the Rovers penalty box to give Ruaidhrí Higgins’ side the lead.

Rovers responded by creating small chances in the Derry half without ever really troubling Brian Maher in the Derry goal. Johnny Kenny picked up a mis-placed pass inside the Derry box and looked to play in Liam Burt, but the Scotsman was just beaten to the ball by Adam O’Reilly before Marcus Poom also had an effort that flew harmlessly over Mahers goal on the half-hour mark.

Rovers best chance of the half fell to Richie Towell after 36 minutes, when the midfielder got on the end of a bouncing ball outside the Derry goal, before his effort went narrowly over the Derry crossbar, much to the delight of the home support.

Just as momentum was building, Stephen Bradley’s side suffered a further setback before the break with the concession of another goal 5 minutes before the interval. Michael Duffy again picked up the ball out in the left-channel, before cutting in and shooting from 25 yards, which saw his shot bounce cruelly through the legs of Leon Pohls in the Rovers goal to give the hosts some breathing space, as they went in at the break with a two-goal cushion.

Stephen Bradley looked to his bench at the start of the second-half, making 4 substitutions at the break, with Graham Burke, Jack Byrne, Neil Farrugia & Trevor Clarke all coming on for the second period.

Despite the changes, it was Derry who almost extended their lead minutes into the second-half, when Will Patching fired an effort from the edge of the Rovers box that thundered back off Pohls’ crossbar to keep the score at 2-0.

After that effort, chances were at a premium for the remainder of the second-half, with the hosts managing the game well, slowing it down at every opportunity given. Stephen Bradley made two more changes just after the hour mark, with Aaron Greene & Simon Power brought on in the hope of getting back into the game.

Despite the positive substitutions, Rovers failed to carve out any clear-cut chances for the remainder of the game, as Derry comfortably saw out the final minutes to pick up the 2023 President’s Cup.

Attention now turns to the League opener next Saturday 18th February as the Hoops begin our SSE Airtricity League of Ireland Premier Division campaign away to Sligo Rovers at The Showgrounds.

Derry City: Maher; Coll, Connolly, S.McEleney, Doherty; Diallo, Patching ©, O’Reilly; Duffy (87’ Ward), C.Kavanagh (56’ McGonigle), Graydon (64’ McEneff).

Derry City Subs Not Used: Tadhg Ryan (GK), Brandon Kavanagh, Evan McLaughlin, Liam Mullan, Conor Barr, Darragh McCloskey.

Shamrock Rovers: Pohls; Cleary (46’ Clarke), Lopes ©, Grace; Nugent (46’ Farrugia), Towell (46’ Burke), Poom, Cruise; Watts (64’ Power), Kenny (64’ Greene), Burt (46’ Byrne).

Shamrock Rovers Subs Not Used: Alan Mannus (GK), Justin Ferizaj, Gideon Tetteh.