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Fenlon gets off to a flyer

HIS players did the business on the field, getting a much-needed win which keeps Shamrock Rovers in the hunt for a European place at least and also a say in the title race.

But it would seem that, in the dressing room at the half-time break, Pat Fenlon played a major role in a 2-0 victory for the Hoops over Derry City, a win orchestrated by Ronan Finn who scored one goal and created another to give Rovers only their second home league win since mid-May.

Rovers had been very poor in the opening 45 minutes and were fortunate not to be a few goals down at the break as Derry winger Michael Duffy tormented the Hoops defence at times.

Fenlon, in his first game in charge of the side, clearly had words at half time as his side were a different outfit in the second half and once Finn fired them in front on 61 minutes, there was only going to be one outcome.

Fenlon had spoken before the game of his hopes of a title challenge from Rovers this season and last night will have heartened him as defeat for St Pats in Cork means that the Hoops and the Saints are now level on points, though champions Pats have a superior goal difference.

Fenlon had put his own stamp on the side with three changes from the side which started in the last league game, when Trevor Croly was in charge.

But Rovers looked out of sorts from early on, struggled to impose themselves on midfield and rarely caused any bother to Derry keeper Ger Doherty.

Signs of a Derry threat were there from early on, Philip Lowry setting up a chance for Rory Patterson in the seventh minute, and keeper Barry Murphy had to stretch to pull off a save to keep out a well-struck Patrick McEleney lob on 14 minutes.


Northern Ireland international Patterson is Derry's main threat this season but Michael Duffy is also a real prospect - currently with North's U21s, he would be a welcome addition to the Republic's ranks.

Duffy had three decent efforts in the space of seven minutes before half time.

Fenlon needed to earn his corn at this stage, and no doubt he had some harsh words at half time.

Duffy was at it again in the second half, two more attempts on Murphy's goal but the first goal fell to Finn on 61 minutes, the former UCD man finishing well from Dean Kelly's perfect headed layoff.

And Kelly scored his second goal of the week in the 70th minute, this time Finn the provider as Kelly was left with a free header.

The job done at home, Rovers now look to back-to-back away games against Athlone Town and Bohemians to see just how 
far Fenlon can push the title challenge.

Finn-inspired Hoops fire in
second half to beat Derry
on manager's debut