Shamrock Rovers 1-0 Derry City

Report: Ryan McMullen

Hoops find their rhythm and produce a magnificent display to secure all three points at home against Derry City.

On a lovely evening in D24, the Hoops lined out with a team that had undergone two changes from the eleven that started last Friday’s match against Dundalk – Markus Poom returned from suspension to replace Jack Byrne in midfield, and Graham Burke slotted into the side too, ahead of Conan Noonan.

In the opening minute, Rovers thought they had found an instant opener when Johnny Kenny picked up possession outside the box and drove towards the goal, skipping past Derry captain Cameron McJannett and around the advancing Brian Maher too, only to be denied by a goal-line clearance by Adam O’Reilly.

The chance proved to be a warning sign though, as it wasn’t long before Rovers were ahead. Following patient build up play, Graham Burke let fly from the edge of the box, with Maher only able to parry his effort into the path of Kenny who made no mistake with the rebound, firing home with an instinctive first time finish to break the deadlock.

And the hosts had a huge opportunity to add a second after 20 minutes of play. Kenny was taken down inside the box by McJannett, and referee Damien MacGraith was quick to deem the challenge a foul, and award Rovers a spot-kick.

Graham Burke stepped up but saw his effort saved by Maher to keep the visitors in the game. It was a strong right hand from Maher who got down low to his right to deny the Hoops number 10.

A nicely executed cross from Darragh Nugent reached Neil Farrugia – his glancing header fell inches wide of the left post.

Approaching the break, Sean Kavanagh was forced off after going to ground with injury – a further injury setback for the Hoops with Jack Byrne sprung from the bench.

Rovers were on the front foot during the first 45 minutes, setting a high tempo and controlling the game throughout.

And the Hoops would be heading in at half-time with the advantage thanks to Kenny’s early finish.

Notably on the night, a number of Bayern Leverkusen supporters who were in Dublin ahead of Wednesday’s UEFA Europa League final, flocked to the match at Tallaght Stadium – based in the North Stand, the Germans were vocal and added to what was an electric atmosphere.

Derry came close with the first opportunity after the break – Ronan Boyce tried his luck from long-range, that attempt just shaved the left post.

After Boyce’s attempt on goal, the Candystripes grew into the game, as play seemed to open up on the wide Tallaght pitch.

On the hour mark, Michael Duffy was unable to direct a header on target after getting on the end of a beautiful delivery by Paul McMullan on the right wing.

For Rovers, Byrne and Burke linked up well – with the former finding a gap in the visitor’s defence to play a perfectly weighted pass into the path of the danger man who sent his effort into the side-netting

Aaron McEneff and Aaron Greene were called upon as the Hoops searched for their second – the duo replacing Burke and Kenny.

Farrugia, who caused plenty of problems down the right flank during the game, teed up McEneff on the edge of the box shortly after the 28-year-old’s arrival onto the pitch, playing against his former club – McEneff put too much power on his strike and hammered over the woodwork.

The Rovers team, who had been superb throughout the contest, were able to soak up pressure from the visitors during a nervy six additional minutes added on at the second half – to get back on track and put three important points on the board.

Stephen Bradley’s side will look to build on the impressive performance and result when they take on Shelbourne at Tallaght Stadium on Friday night, with kick-off set for 8 pm.

Shamrock Rovers: Pohls, Farrugia, Cleary, Lopes ©, Honohan, Clarke, Kavanagh (Byrne 36’), Poom, Nugent, Burke (McEneff 68’), Kenny (Greene 68’).

Shamrock Rovers unused substitutes: Steacy, Leitis, Barrett, J O’Sullivan, C O’Sullivan, Noonan.

Derry City: Maher, McJannett ©, Boyce, Coll (Todd 46’), S McEleney, Duffy, O’Reilly, Mullen, McMullan, Dummigan (P McEleney 46’), Patching (Patton 83’).

Derry City unused substitutes: Ryan, Harkin, Connolly, Doherty.

Referee: Damien MacGraith