Report: Ryan McMullen

Shamrock Rovers earned all 3 points in Tallaght thanks to a second-half Roberto Lopes header.

Going into the game head coach Stephen Bradley made just one change from his side’s last outing against Shelbourne, with Lee Grace returning from injury to replace Markus Poom.

Just 6 minutes in, forward Graham Burke received the ball from Gary O’Neill just outside of the box following some impressive work from Rory Gaffney, Burke saw his shot going just wide of the bottom right-hand corner, an early chance after a bright start for the Hoops.

Burke was on the ball again shortly after, this time playing a pass over the top into Gaffney whose strongly hit shot forced Nathan Shepperd in the Dundalk goal to get down to his near post to deny the effort.

Graham Burke had a really impressive start to the game creating chances and playing with a lot of energy, and in the 20th minute, he was causing danger to the Dundalk defence once again, after finding the ball on the edge of the box he took a shot on with his left foot but once again saw it go wide of the right-hand post.

Down the other end, Dundalk had a chance of their own when Archie Davies delivered a nice ball into John Martin in the Dundalk box but goalkeeper Alan Mannus was there to make the save and ultimately see out the danger.

Rory Gaffney found himself in a one-on-one situation with Nathan Shepperd after the ball was played up to him from Graham Burke although just as he took on the shot the flag was raised from the linesman.

Dundalk had a chance just before halftime when Daryl Horgan was given the ball by Yli-Kokko, Horgan played the ball across the box but just put too much pressure on it and saw it go out of play, The linesman however deemed this opportunity as offside and the flag was put up once again.

The sides were going in at the break level and would both be looking to find the breakthrough in the second half despite chances at both ends of the pitch.

Not long after halftime, Graham Burke played a ball that went straight across the box finding Liam Burt on the other side who put the ball back into Dylan Watts but his effort went wide of the target.

Liam Burt hit an excellent cross into the box after a free kick from Burke was cleared, Burt’s cross found the head of Rory Gaffney who headed the ball into the net past Shepperd, it looked like he had found the lead for the home side but his goal was ruled out for offside.

The breakthrough finally came just past the hour mark and it came for the Hoops when Roberto Lopes met a Dylan Watts corner at the near post to head home into the bottom right corner to put the home side in front with less than 30 minutes to play.

Rovers looked to double their lead when a free kick was won on the left-hand side of the box, The free kick was taken by Dylan Watts but his cross was dealt with by the Dundalk defence.

Rory Gaffney was unlucky not to find a second for Rovers ten minutes from time when he decided to have a shot on the edge of the box, Nathan Shepperd however made an outstanding save to put the ball out for a corner.

Dundalk substitute Sam Durrant tried to find the equaliser for the visitors but his shot from just outside the box was saved by Alan Mannus in the left-hand corner of the goal.

Despite some pressure from Dundalk who were looking to find a goal that would have put the game level, Rovers defended well and stopped any half chances that were created late on.

Roberto Lopes’ goal proved to be the decider in the game as the Hoops won at home in front of a crowd of just over 6,000. Next up for Stephen Bradley’s side is a Dublin Derby against Bohemians next Friday night (September 1st) with a 7.45 kick-off set at Tallaght Stadium.

Shamrock Rovers: Mannus, Lopes, Grace, Cleary, Watts (Towell 76’), Finn © (Clarke 71’), Kavanagh, Burke (Kenny 71’), O’Neill, Gaffney, Burt (Poom 53’).

Shamrock Rovers unused substitutes: Pohls, Gannon, Hoare, Power, Nugent.

Dundalk: Shepperd, Davies, Annesley, Kelly, Sloggett (Lewis 64’), Martin (Hoban 64’), Horgan ©, Muller (McCourt 81’), Brownlie, Yli-Kokko (Durrant 75’), Malley (Elliott 81’).

Dundalk unused substitutes: Cherrie, Leahy, Boyle, Doyle.