Report: Ryan McMullen
Hoops boss Stephen Bradley was aware going into Friday night’s game that a win would see the Hoops secure the league title and their fourth on the bounce, equalling the achievement of the four-in-a-row team of the 1980s.
He made just one change from Sunday’s side that came out 5-0 winners against Drogheda United, with the injured Trevor Clarke replaced by captain Ronan Finn.
Rovers dominated the possession in the opening stages Johnny Kenny came close to finding the breakthrough just over 1 minute in but he saw his snapshot go narrowly past the post
Rovers had an impressive start playing some impressive football but despite that, St Pat’s had an opportunity down their end as midfielder Kian Leavy made his way past Gary O’Neill and Lee Grace and found himself in a good position, striking the crossbar with an effort on his weaker foot.
Other than the chances early on, both teams struggled to create any clear-cut opportunities but with not long left in the half there were two in quick succession for the Hoops. Rory Gaffney had a strike that was denied by Dean Lyness in goal for the Saints, and Johnny Kenny had a shot that went across the box but just too far right of the target not troubling Lyness. The Hoops also had the ball in the net when Rory Gaffney pounced on a spill from Lyness, but the striker was adjudged to have been in an offside position.
Halftime came and neither side had found an opener, both Rovers and Pat’s had good spells of play during the half but during the latter stages the Hoops were on top and started to find their momentum.
Johnny Kenny had a chance for himself shortly after the break, having received the ball from Rory Gaffney, Kenny shot at the near post and forced Lyness to get down and clear the danger for the hosts.
Lyness was in action again just after, Gaffney this time had a chance of his own, the Pat’s ‘keeper comfortably kept out his shot aiming for the bottom left corner.
It looked like it was going to be a frustrating evening for the Hoops until the 83rd minute when Dylan Watts retrieved a Sean Kavanagh cross that looked to be going out of play and sent the ball back into the box where it found the head of substitute Aaron Greene who headed home.
The 1,1500+ Rovers fans that made the trip to Inchicore were in a great mood following the goal and it got even better for them in the first minute of an extra 7 added on when Graham Burke intercepted Norman’s attempted pass and broke through on goal. With just Lyness to beat, he went around the Saints shot stopper and kept his composure to slot home to put the icing on the cake.
It’s an incredible achievement for this Rovers team to win four league titles in a row and it was fitting that two goals on the night were scored by 2 players who had been there throughout those four special seasons.
The league champions now have a trip South on Bank Holiday Monday where they’ll face Cork City, kick-off is at 4:45 pm in Turner’s Cross.
St Patrick’s Athletic: Lyness, Breslin, Redmond ©, Lennon (McCormack 80’), Lonergan (Mulraney 61’), Norman, Doyle (Nolan 80’), Leavy, Curtis, Murphy (Forrester 70’), Melia (Carty 61’).
St Patrick’s Athletic unused substitutes: Rogers, McClelland, Timmermans, McGrath.
Shamrock Rovers: Mannus, Lopes, Grace, Cleary, Finn © (Kavanagh 31’), O’Neill, Towell, Poom (Watts 61’), Farrugia, Gaffney (Greene 81’), Kenny (Burke 61’).
Shamrock Rovers unused substitutes: Pohls, Hoare, Nugent, Burt, Razi.