Derry City were not distracted by their upcoming FAI Cup final as they took a deserved 3-1 win with them from Tallaght Stadium against Shamrock Rovers on Saturday night.
The Candystripes led 2-0 at half time, following an early goal from Stephen McLaughlin and a Rory Patterson penalty. Just one minute into the second half, Barry McNamee put them 3-0 up with Rovers substitute Tommy Stewart scoring their only goal as the game went into injury time.
The match was just six minutes old when Derry City took the lead. Rory Patterson, who had an excellent game for the visitors, found some space on the left to cross into the box. Stephen McLaughlin rose highest in the middle of a crowded box and his downward header flew by Rovers ‘keeper Oscar Jansson to make it 1-0.
Derry had made three changes to their team that beat Shels in the cup semi-final last Wednesday and lined up with a 4-2-3-1 formation with Rory Patterson up top and he put in a man-of-the-match winning performance.
Rovers had limited opportunities to find an equaliser. A foul by Derry City’s Mark Brolly on Ronan Finn allowed Billy Dennehy to whip the ball in but Derry ‘keeper Ger Doherty gathered readily. Finn had to go off injured following the clash and the midfielder, who has scored eight league goals this season, was badly missed by last season’s champions.
A Derry corner half way through the opening period from Barry McNamee came back out to the player who signed a two year extension with Derry during the week. His dangerously low cross had Oscar Jansson diving low at the feet of several inrushing Derry players.
Derry doubled their advantage as the clock ticked by 30 minutes. Patterson was again very much involved as he ran onto a through ball into the box and went around ‘keeper Jansson. There was minimal contact between the two with Patterson going down late as he was facing away from the goal.
Assistant referee Mark Douglas immediately signalled for the foul. Rovers may have been worried that were going to have their goalkeeper sent off against Derry for the second time this year, but Paul McLaughlin only produced a yellow card. It was Patterson himself who scored from the penalty spot with Jansson diving the correct way but not stopping the ball going in off the right hand post.
Patterson managed to get by Rovers substitute Shane O’Connor on 34 minutes and really should have done better with a shot that went well wide of the Rovers goal. Rovers’ best chance of the half fell to Ciarán Kilduff but the striker’s shot didn’t test Ger Doherty in the Derry goal.
Derry couldn’t have had a better start to the second half going 3-0 up just a minute into the second period. Stephen McLaughlin played a precise through ball from his own half to the onrushing McNamee. McNamee had time to take it to the edge of the Rovers area before slotting it into the bottom corner of the goal passed the advancing Jansson.
Patterson had a great chance to make it four with his shot going over the bar when facing Jansson as the game moved into the final quarter. Rovers did have a few half chances in the second half, mainly coming from headers. Gary Twigg from a Billy Dennehy cross on 55 minutes went close before Kilduff from a Pat Sullivan centre headed wide on the hour mark.
Stephen McLaughlin’s shot with 15 minutes remaining flew inches over the bar after he found some space to run into on down the left. Derry’s defence stood firm until injury time when Rovers substitute Tommy Stewart pulled a goal back for the Hoops. He was allowed time to move through the Derry defenders and pick out the bottom right hand corner of the goal with a well struck low shot but it was too little too late for Rovers.
Watching in the stands was Hibernian manager Pat Fenlon and also several hundred German football fans who had stayed on after last night’s win over Ireland in Aviva Stadium. That cup final location is where Derry’s focus will move after their final league game of the season against Pat’s. Rovers will be hoping Pat’s win the cup to secure Rovers a spot in Europe as otherwise they will need to win their last two games and hope results elsewhere go the way of the Hoops to qualify.
Shamrock Rovers: Oscar Jansson; Pat Sullivan, Craig Sives, Ken Oman, Conor Powell; Billy Dennehy (Aaron Greene 55), Ronan Finn (Shane O’Connor 27), Stephen Rice, Sean Gannon; Ciaran Kilduff, Gary Twigg (Tommy Stewart 76).
Subs not used: Reyaad Pieterse, Graham Gartland, Gary O’Neill.
Booked: Oman (27), Jansson (29).
Derry City: Ger Doherty; Simon Madden, Shane McEleney, Stewart Greacen, Dermot McCaffrey; Mark Brolly (David McDaid 58), Barry Molloy (Ryan McBride 80), Ruaidhri Higgins, Barry McNamee; Stephen McLaughlin, Rory Patterson (Conor Murphy 73).
Subs not used: Eugene Ferry, Kevin Deery, Ryan Curran.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin.
Attendance: 1,800 (estimate).
Extratime Man of the Match: Rory Patterson (Derry City).
Macdara made his debut as a football supporter in Lansdowne Road watching Ireland defeat Luxembourg. He still believes one day he will see his club Shamrock Rovers win an FAI Cup. You can follow Macdara on twitter <a href="http://www.twitter.com/macdarabueller">@macdarabueller</a>