Corcoran follows up as Bohemians halt nine-man Hoops' title procession
Shamrock Rovers 0 Bohemians 1
Shamrock Rovers remain top of the league table but Bohemians will argue that they are, today at least, the kings of Dublin after yet another win for the northside club in a pulsating derby.
A crowd of 6,414 watched Bohemians keep up their remarkable record against Rovers - the Hoops battling through with nine men last night. It's now five wins and a draw for Bohs in the last six meetings of the clubs.
Home fans can only wonder what would have happened if a referee other than Paul McLaughlin was in charge, as he made two calls, two very big ones, which decided this game. The first was the correct call, Trevor Clarke sent off after just 27 minutes for a foul in the box on Daniel Grant.
The second decision was, in hindsight, a wrong one as he judged that Lee Grace handled the ball while trying to block a shot by Keith Buckley. The outcome was a second booking, and early exit, for Grace, and a penalty which Bohs converted.
Those trying to make sense of it all included President Michael D Higgins, Mick McCarthy and Robbie Keane, and debate will rage on over the call for the penalty, but the loss will harm Rovers' title bid and open up the race, Rovers away to Dundalk on Friday.
Bohs have enjoyed their most recent visits to Tallaght Stadium and they looked at ease in the early stages last night.
It's been the case for Rovers' most recent games where the opposition enjoy a good spell early on, while the teams are sizing each other up, only for the Hoops to take control.
They did that as the first half wore on, Rovers going very close on 14 minutes when a Ronan Finn header, from a free-kick by Jack Byrne, came off the crossbar.
The woodwork saved Bohs on that occasion, and two minutes later it was the skills of goalkeeper James Talbot which did the needful.
Rovers were well in control but the game turned against the home side on 27 minutes, when winger Grant ran on to a incisive pass from Mandroiu, Grant was tugged by left-back Clarke and referee McLaughlin's decisions were that it was a foul worthy of a red card but outside the box, so a free-kick was the outcome.
Ten minutes later, came the moment that killed off Rovers, again the referee central. A good Bohs move led to a shot by Keith Buckley, ref McLaughlin felt that Grace had used his hand when making a block in the box.
Dinny Corcoran saw his effort saved by Alan Mannus but the striker showed his striker's nous and followed up, sending the rebound over the line, Mannus sustaining an injury in that incident though he was able to carry on.
Mannus made that point to ref McLaughlin as the teams left the pitch at the end of the first half, and the home supporters let McLaughlin know what they thought of his decisions as he was booed off into the sanctuary of the dressing-room.
Coaching courses are hardly well-equipped to prepare a manager for a task like this, facing a full 45 minutes with a one-goal and a two-man deficit, Rovers by now with a completely new shape, Ronan Finn asked to drop back and add some protection to a 4-3-1 formation.
In fairness to Rovers, despite the size of that task they didn't shirk, attempting to take the game to Bohs, where possible. There was a glimmer of hope on the hour mark when Levingston fouled his midfield counterpart McEneff and Rovers were awarded a free-kick, but Byrne's set-piece went straight into the wall.
That chance, and the arrival off the bench of Dan Carr, sparked life into the nine-man home side. Carr worked his way into space and sent in a fierce shot on 73 minutes which needed a save from Talbot, who was determined to keep his ninth clean sheet of the season and five minutes later it was former Bohs man Lopes who came up with the threat, clipping a shot wide after good work by Joey O'Brien.
At this stage Bohs were struggling to make advantage of their extra manpower, as every surge forward from the players in Hoops raised the hopes of their fans.
Bohs had the ball, they just didn't do enough with it. Sub Keith Ward had a couple of efforts on goal but Mannus was not too troubled, while Mandroiu was also able to get within sight of goal but Mannus saved anything that the Ireland U-21 cap, watched by Stephen Kenny last night, had to offer, Bohs holding on at the end for a win which makes the 2019 title race less of a canter for Rovers.
Shamrock Rovers - Mannus; O'Brien, Grace, Lopes, Clarke; S Kavanagh; Byrne (B Kavanagh 86), Finn, McEneff, Watts (Carr 71); Greene.
Bohemians- Talbot; Pender, Finnerty, Cornwall, Leahy; Buckley, Levingston; Grant (Ward 66), Mandroiu (Reghba 89), Devaney; Corcoran.
REF - P McLaughlin