Monday 20 May 2019

Greene the hero as Hoops make it eight

Derry City 0 Shamrock Rovers 1

Jack Byrne (left) and Ronan Finn celebrate after Shamrock Rovers earned victory over Derry City. Photo: Sportsfile
Jack Byrne (left) and Ronan Finn celebrate after Shamrock Rovers earned victory over Derry City. Photo: Sportsfile

Aidan Fitzmaurice

The threat from one rival impressively swatted away, Shamrock Rovers will know over the course of the next week if two other challengers can put up a fight and prevent the 2019 title race from becoming a procession for the Hoops.

Eight successive league wins, the latest a 1-0 triumph away to Derry City, is title-winning form from Stephen Bradley's outfit, who looked composed and clinical at a sold-out Brandywell, an emotional night for a city which mourned the loss of journalist Lyra McKee in a terrorist attack less than a mile from the Brandywell gates.

Shamrock Rovers' Lee Grace leaps above Derry City's David Parkhouse. Photo: Sportsfile
Shamrock Rovers' Lee Grace leaps above Derry City's David Parkhouse. Photo: Sportsfile

Steel Aside from failing to prevent the winning goal from Aaron Greene, City goalkeeper Peter Cherrie had only one save of note to make, in added time, but this Rovers side are showing the steel needed to win a title.

Over the course of next week they face Bohemians (Tuesday) and Dundalk (Friday), the teams immediately below them in the table: win those two and Rovers could be uncatchable for the rest.

As things stood just before kick-off, it was Derry who looked best-placed to pose a challenge to Rovers this season and prevent them from running away with the title.

And the opening phases of the game were certainly even matched, Derry enjoying good spells of possession, and the first real chance of the game on 42 minutes when Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe headed just wide after a brilliant move.

Shamrock Rovers' Joey O'Brien battles for the ball with Derry City's Eoghan Stokes. Photo: Sportsfile
Shamrock Rovers' Joey O'Brien battles for the ball with Derry City's Eoghan Stokes. Photo: Sportsfile

But Rovers have been clinical this season, and the fact that Aaron Greene put home their first attempt on goal shows that the Hoops crop of 2019 have a bit of steel about them.

This was the first time that Derry native Aaron McEneff played in the Brandywell for the away side, his close-season move from City to Rovers still a source of anger for Derry fans who booed his every touch.

Derry had looked good in the early stages, though. On 14 minutes, a poor pass from Lee Grace gifted possession to David Parkhouse, he fed the ball into Ogedi-Uzokwe and his shot was well-struck, but off target.

Three minutes before the break came that superb, swift attacking move from City, Barry McNamee's pass setting up Parkhouse and when he whipped in a cross, Ogedi-Uzokwe just wide with a diving header.

But less than a minute later Rovers were ahead, Jack Byrne's ball perfectly weighted for Greene who outpaced his marker Eoin Toal and Greene fired in his first goal in eight games.

City came out with intent in the second half, but for all their possession they lacked the punch and finesse needed to trouble Alan Mannus, who was called on to save from David Parkhouse on 53 minutes, while Ogedi-Uzokwe should have done better when he was set up by McClean on 76 minutes.

It was bruising stuff at times, six bookings shared by the two sides, though ref Derek Tomney was still booed off by the home fans at the end.

Sub Joel Coustrain almost added a second goal in injury time for the Hoops, even those additional five minutes not enough for Derry to get something.

City drop from second to fourth in the table while an impressive Hoops side march on, Bohemians now with the task of ending that winning streak.

Derry City - Cherrie; Cole, Toal, Gilchrist, McClean; McNamee, Harkin (McDermott 77), Sloggett; Ogedi-Uzokwe, Stokes (Bruna 57).

Shamrock Rovers - Mannus; O'Brien, Lopes, Grace, Clarke (Carr 65); S Kavanagh; Watts, McEneff, Finn (Vojic 82), Byrne (Coustrain 87); Greene.

REF - D Tomney

Irish Independent

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