Report: Ryan McMullen

The Hoops suffered their first home league defeat since May 2023 as Waterford walked away from Tallaght Stadium with victory.

Prior to the clash in D24, Stephen Bradley named an XI that saw two changes to the team that picked up a point away at Bohemians last Friday; Both Dylan Watts and Darragh Burns, who made their way off with injury in that game, missed out with Markus Poom and Sean Kavanagh coming into the side in their place.

After just 3 minutes of play came the opener, and it was the visitors who claimed an unlikely lead. When a corner was sent in from the left by Dean McMenamy, Hoops goalkeeper Leon Pohls failed to collect with the ball ending up in the back of the net to stun the majority inside Tallaght Stadium.

Rovers’ response was almost instant. Sean Kavanagh put a ball across the face of goal in the path of Trevor Clarke, but the 26-year-old failed to hit the target, seeing his effort fly wide.

The Hoops didn’t have to wait much longer however to draw parity. A Conan Noonan free kick was played short to Kavanagh, who sent a supplied a suburb delivery towards Kenny at the back post who forced a save from Sargeant but the in-form striker was alert and made no mistake converting the rebound to level the score and get his fourth goal in as many games and his sixth of the season.

The visitors’ response was swift and almost regained the lead when Connor Parsons tried his luck from the edge of the area but saw his effort land just short of the post.

It wasn’t long before the visitors did regain the lead through former Hoop McMenamy, with a long-range strike. After Josh Honohan blocked an initial shot from Padraig Amond, the ball fell to the 22-year-old in space and he smashed it past Pohls into the bottom corner to restore the lead.

On the 33rd minute, Kavanagh swung in a nice cross from the left hand side, that Sargeant dived to try and save – the Englishman missed it though, and the ball ended up with Clarke on the far side of the box, and his chance was crucially blocked by Rowan McDonald.

Trevor Clarke came close as half-time approached, he cut towards the box and released a powerful shot that was blocked by a diving header from Waterford captain Darragh Leahy, and went out for a corner. 

From the resulting set-piece, Josh Honohan rose to meet the end of Conan Noonan’s cross and headed towards goal, but the attempt lacked power and was easily gathered by the ‘keeper. 

Keith Long’s side were heading into the break with the advantage – leaving the Hoops with work to do in the second-half. 

Following the interval, a corner from Noonan dropped to the feet of Cleary at the back post, but he saw his opportunity inadvertently blocked by Honohan as the ball made its way towards goal.

In the period following the interval, things got even worse for Rovers when the visitors grabbed their third. Leon Pohls was able to deny Meleace Asamoah, making a fantastic save with a strong left hand – the Hoops then failed to clear their lines with Connor Parsons picking up a loose ball before hammering a strike in off the crossbar to extend the visitors lead. 

A minute after the goal, Stephen Bradley called Neil Farrugia and Jack Byrne off the bench to be introduced for Noonan and Kavanagh, as his side looked to get themselves back in the contest.

The two substitutes linked up well before Byrne played in Clarke, who tried his luck from outside the box but his strike took a deflection off Parsons and went wide – resulting in a corner.

Waterford were saved by the woodwork when Kenny fired from the edge of the box on the left. A left off for Long’s side.

The Hoops suffered a setback when Clarke limped off, with youngstar Cory O’Sullivan replacing the 26-year-old on the left flank.

With just over 10 minutes remaining, Byrne had a go on goal – but his attempt from range went the wrong side of the upright.

The visitors would see out the final minutes protecting their two goal advantage to secure all three points on a disappointing day for the Hoops in D24. The defeat was the home side’s first league defeat in Tallaght since Drogheda United claimed all three points in May 2023. 

Bradley’s side will look to bounce back on Friday when St. Patrick’s Athletic are the visitors to Tallaght Stadium. Kick off is set for 7:45pm.

Shamrock Rovers: Pohls, Clarke (C O’Sullivan 74’), Cleary, Lopes ©, Cleary, Honohan, Kavanagh (Byrne 55’), Clarke, Noonan (Farrugia 55’), Poom (Barrett 78’), Nugent, Kenny, Greene. 

Shamrock Rovers unused substitutes: Steacy, Leitis, J O’Sullivan, Britton, Reddy.

Waterford: Sargeant, Power, Radkowski, Horton, Leahy ©, McMenamy (O’Keefe 90’), McDonald, Asamoah (Macadam 70’), Parsons (Pattisson 82’), McCourt, Amond. 

Waterford unused substitutes: Connor, McCormack, Evans, Arubi, Akachukwu, Forde.

Referee: Eoghan O’Shea