Friday 22 September 2017

Dennehy runs riot as Hoops title train gains momentum

Shamrock Rovers 4
UCD 1

UCD goalkeeper Gerard Barron watches the ball hit the net after a shot from Shamrock Rovers' Billy Dennehy went in for his side's second goal in Tallaght last night. Photo: David Maher / Sportsfile
UCD goalkeeper Gerard Barron watches the ball hit the net after a shot from Shamrock Rovers' Billy Dennehy went in for his side's second goal in Tallaght last night. Photo: David Maher / Sportsfile

Neil Ahern

THEIR Dublin rivals are following closely in their tracks, but this Shamrock Rovers train is showing no signs of slowing down.

The Hoops have now gone 15 league games unbeaten and scored 16 goals in their last five.

No doubt, Pete Mahon and Pat Fenlon will still hope for some form of a slip-up from Michael O'Neill's men although, given the performances from the Tallaght outfit in recent weeks, such hopes might soon diminish.

They strolled to victory last night against an out-of-sorts UCD side but it was the confidence and fluency with which they played that suggests it will take a huge turnaround of fortunes for the country's most successful club to blow their chance of a first Premier League title in 16 years.

ominous

It looked ominous for Martin Russell's men from the very start when the home side took the lead with consummate ease after just five minutes.

For all Greg Bolger's ability, the young midfielder's inexperience led him to hand the opener to the hosts when he mulled over the ball for far too long just 30 yards out before Stephen Bradley stole in and capitalised.

The former Arsenal man was left with just Ger Barron to beat and he did so with aplomb, taking his time before curling the ball beautifully past the UCD 'keeper.

It was a crucial error from the young Student but one of the masters of the defensive trade was guilty of an almost identical offence in the lead-up to the equaliser.

Dan Murray belied his years of experience as he dwelled on the ball in front of his own box and Ciaran Kilduff robbed him of possession before receiving the second ball and firing a strike that deflected cruelly over the helpless Alan Mannus.

The leveller came completely against the run of play after the Hoops appeared to have taken the game by the scruff of the neck, but they were struggling creatively and were reduced to only a handful of half-chances.

It was no surprise, then, to hear the crowd urging Billy Dennehy to cross as he burst down the wing two minutes before half-time.

The Kerryman looked up to see Gary Twigg free at the back post but the crowd got more than what they bargained for as Dennehy sliced his cross and watched it loop over the head of the flat-footed Barron.

Dennehy was once again in the thick of the action five minutes after the break when he was on the receiving end of a rash Brian Shorthall challenge which earned the UCD man a red card.

Thereafter, the league leaders took the game in their stride and the excellent Dennehy turned provider for the third on 63 minutes when he dug out a stupendous cross from the corner flag which dropped right into Twigg's airspace and by the time it even met his head, the result was an inevitability as the ball nestled into the far corner.

Dan Murray finished the rout on 72 minutes when he met Dennehy's corner with a powerful header to maintain his side's five point lead at the summit.

SHAMROCK ROVERS -- Mannus, Chambers, Murray, Price, Stevens; Kavanagh (Fenn 46), Rice, Bradley (Bayly 78), Dennehy; Twigg, Stewartv (Flynn 65).

UCD -- Barron, Shortall, Boyle, E McMillan (Leahy 46), O'Conor; Ward, Bolger, O'Connor, Mulhall, Moore (Creevy 53); Kilduff.

REF -- N Doyle (Dublin).

Irish Independent

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