Report: Ryan McMullen
A super strike from Graham Burke sealed all 3 points for the Hoops and saw them come out on top in the last Dublin derby of the season.
There were 4 changes to the Hoops starting lineup from last week’s draw against UCD; Sean Hoare dropped to the bench along with Trevor Clarke and Dylan Watts who were replaced by Lee Grace, Sean Kavanagh and Markus Poom. Neil Farrugia also didn’t feature in the squad with the skipper coming in to the side to take his place at wing back.
Early on, Rovers enjoyed a lot of possession and won themselves a free kick in the left hand corner just 3 minutes in. Markus Poom swung in a lovely ball that was met by the head of Pico Lopes but his effort went just too high above the crossbar.
Rovers started off the better side putting pressure on the Shelbourne defence in the opening stages but never really troubled goalkeeper Conor Kearns.
With not long left before half time, the visitors had a chance of their own when Harry Wood received the ball just outside the box and played it into Lunney but he couldn’t find the target and saw his attempt go wide.
Down the other end, Gary O’Neill decided to take a shot on after the ball was pulled back to him from Rory Gaffney, the strike from O’Neill however went straight into the hands of Kearns.
It was level at half time and no goals for either side despite chances down both ends of the pitch.
Following the break Rory Gaffney came close to finding an opener when his strike from a Markus Poom corner which took a flick on to him was saved on the line by Conor Kearns.
Just 2 minutes later, Gaffney was in on goal again and found himself one-on-one with Kearns after receiving a through ball from Liam Burt, this time Gaffney made it past the goalkeeper and had a go from a tight angle but his effort was denied by Euclides Da Silva Cabral who was scrambling back to make the crucial block.
On the night, Hoops captain Ronan Finn made his 400th appearance for the club and in the 65th minute he played a lovely ball into Liam Burt who was in a perfect position just outside the six yard box but he failed to direct his effort on target.
Not long after, the breakthrough finally came and it came through Graham Burke for Rovers. Surrounded by Shelbourne players, Burke received the ball, worked some space and struck a low shot on his left foot that found the bottom right hand corner of the net precisely to put the Hoops in front with just under 20 minutes to play.
Rovers would be forced to see the game out with 10 men when goalscorer Graham Burke was shown a second yellow in the 78th minute as a result of a late challenge on Shelbourne captain Mark Coyle.
Shelbourne piled the pressure on late into the game but regardless of being a man down Rovers managed to defend nicely and secure themselves an important home victory.
Tallaght Sttadium was met with a record league attendance of 7,879 for tonight’s game, a good night for the Hoops supporters who showed up in their numbers for what turned out to be a massive win for their side.
The Hoops head into a three week break now before returning to Tallaght to play Drogheda United on Friday 20 October, as the title race enters the closing stages with just four games remaining in the campaign.
Shamrock Rovers: Mannus, Cleary, Lopes, Grace, Finn © (Towell 74’), Poom, O’Neill (Watts 62’), Kavanagh (Clarke 74’), Burt (Byrne 74’), Burke, Gaffney (Greene 86’).
Shamrock Rovers unused substitutes: Pohls, Hoare, Nugent, Kenny.
Shelbourne: Kearns, Wilson, Molloy, Barrett, Cabral (Griffin 64’), Caffrey (Farrell 64’), Coyle © (Arubi 84’), Lunney (McManus, 89’), Jarvis, Wood, Moylan.
Shelbourne unused substitutes: Fisk, Quinn, Byrne, Toure, Ledwidge.