By Adam Conway
Tallaght Stadium, 13th October, 7.00pm.
Derry City ran out deserved winners in Tallaght Stadium on Saturday evening after beating Shamrock Rovers 3-1 in the League of Ireland Premier Division. Goals from Stephen McLaughlin, Rory Patterson and Barry McNamee secured the victory for the away side. Thomas Stewart added a late consolation for Rovers.
On the day that Sligo Rovers were confirmed 2012 Premier Division champions, Shamrock Rovers began the match hoping for all three points as they continued their fight for a third place finish and automatic European qualification. The Hoops were without Killian Brennan and Conor Winn through injury, and Gary McCabe and Colin Hawkins were both suspended for the tie.
Derry came into the match off the back of a midweek victory in the FAI Ford Cup semi-final replay against Shelbourne. The Candystripes ran out 3-0 winners at Tolka Park and will face St. Pat’s in the final at the Aviva.
After a scrappy opening to the game, the home side began to find a passing rhythm. Ronan Finn found himself in acres of space just outside the area, but saw his shot sail wide of Gerard Doherty’s goal.
With their first chance of the match, Derry took the lead after 6 minutes. Following some nice work down the left wing from Rory Patterson, his lofted cross into the box was met by Stephen McLaughlin, who headed home from close range.
Ronan Finn, who had begun to pull the strings in the Rovers midfield, was on the end of a late tackle from Derry captain Barry Molloy midway through the first half. The former UCD and Sporting Fingal man had to leave the pitch moments later as a result of the challenge, and was replaced by Shane O’Connor.
On the half hour mark Derry were awarded a penalty by referee Paul McLaughlin. Rory Patterson was taken down inside the area by Rovers’ ‘keeper Oscar Jansson. Patterson dusted himself off, and converted from the spot to double Derry’s lead.
Derry looked very much in control of the match following their second goal. Rovers had a couple of half chances that they never really looked like converting, and the away side led 2-0 at the break.
Just minutes after the restart, an incisive pass through the middle from Stephen McLaughlin played Barry McNamee through on goal, and he calmly slotted the ball into the bottom corner to make it 3-0 to the visitors.
Derry continued to pile on the pressure in the second half. A number of decisions were awarded the way of the travelling side, much to the frustration of the home support, who began to let their feelings known.
Rovers twice came close to a reply midway through the second half. A Gary Twigg strike from the edge of the area, before a Ciarán Kilduff header both narrowly missed the target.
Substitute Thomas Stewart added a late consolation for Rovers in injury time, to give the home fans, or at least those who hadn’t already made their way to the exists, something to cheer about.
It was a poor performance from the home side. Rovers will now have to rely on other teams and win their remaining two fixtures, including a trip to champions Sligo, if they’re to have any chance of European qualification. Derry were in control for the majority of the match and it finished 3-1 to the travelling side.
Thomas Stewart, who was on the scoresheet for Shamrock Rovers, felt the fans deserved more for their support.
“It’s obviously disappointing. We set ourselves a certain standard here and the fans deserve better. Derry were up for it tonight, but we wanted to build on last season and give the fans something to cheer about.
“We’ll learn from tonight and get our heads down to try and get the result we need next week. That’s all we can do.”
Shamrock Rovers: Oscar Jansson; Conor Powell, Pat Sullivan, Craig Sives, Ken Oman; Ronan Finn (Shane O’Connor, 27), Stephen Rice, Billy Dennehy (Aaron Greene, 56), Sean Gannon; Gary Twigg (Thomas Stewart, 76), Ciarán Kilduff.
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Dermot McCaffry, Stewart Greacen, Shane McEleney, Simon Madden; Barry Molloy (Ryan McBride, 81), Ruaidhrí Higgins, Barry McNamee, Marc Brolly (David McDaid, 59), Stephen McLaughlin; Rory Patterson (Conor Murphy, 73).