Sunday 27 May 2018

Indiscipline costs Rovers as Saints triumph in derby

St Pat's 2 Shamrock Rvs 0

Stephen Bradley: Under pressure. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Stephen Bradley: Under pressure. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

For 10-man Shamrock Rovers, a seventh defeat of the season and a momentum-checker following Monday's impressive brushing aside of Cork City.

Old failings haunted Stephen Bradley's charges here with the combination of a daft red card for Joey O'Brien and an extremely soft concession swinging this game towards St Patrick's Athletic.

Killian Brennan of St Patrick's Athletic scores his side's second goal. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Killian Brennan of St Patrick's Athletic scores his side's second goal. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Liam Buckley's side's results against the Hoops played a big part in their successful attempt to avoid relegation last term, but they have loftier ambitions this time around.

This result moves them level with their south Dublin rivals, with a Rovers return of just four points from eight away matches a damning statistic.

After a scrappy first half, this game was changed by the dismissal of former Irish international O'Brien before the break.

He was shown a straight red by referee Graham Kelly for a rash and late challenge on Saints midfielder Ryan Brennan just in front of the home bench which prompted an angry reaction.

Killian Brennan, right, of St Patrick's Athletic celebrates infront of Shamrock Rovers supporters. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Killian Brennan, right, of St Patrick's Athletic celebrates infront of Shamrock Rovers supporters. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Kelly had a yellow in his hand at first, but after consideration - and the input of his assistant - he reached for his back pocket.

Bradley said afterwards that Rovers had to accept the referee's decision, although he was unhappy with some other calls.

He also felt there had been no malicious intent from O'Brien, who took his punishment without much complaint.

The 32-year-old only became slightly animated when tackled by Brennan's brother Killian, a Saints sub, in the aftermath.

Sean Kavanagh of Shamrock Rovers in action against Ryan Brennan of St Patrick's Athletic. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Sean Kavanagh of Shamrock Rovers in action against Ryan Brennan of St Patrick's Athletic. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

It was a bizarre flashpoint, because it was out of sync with the game to that point; it was all huff and puff and no real action.

The hosts were sharper out of the blocks, and threatened from a series of corner kicks. However, Rovers responded by creating the best opportunity from play when Dan Carr tested Barry Murphy.

Carr was selected ahead of Gary Shaw, the only change from the side that beat Cork City on Monday, with Bradley sticking with the same 3-4-2-1 formation.

The loss of O'Brien, who was positioned on the right of the back three, naturally upset that system.

Wing-backs Ethan Boyle and Sean Kavanagh reverted to full-back roles in a back four, although Bradley stuck with quite a narrow four-man midfield, with Aaron Bolger and Graham Burke shifting wide where possible.

Ryan Brennan of St Patrick's Athletic has a shot on goal despite the efforts of Lee Grace of Shamrock Rovers. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Ryan Brennan of St Patrick's Athletic has a shot on goal despite the efforts of Lee Grace of Shamrock Rovers. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

The Saints have good technical players that were able to exploit the situation, though, and they were on top from the restart and ahead within 10 minutes - albeit in curious circumstances.

Brennan had already wasted a good opportunity when a Saints corner was met by Kevin Toner with the ball then allowed to bounce through Rovers bodies before taking a deflection off Graham Burke that turned it past Kevin Horgan. The packed away section in a 2,900 attendance watched the horror unfold right in front of them.

It was a goal that was easily preventable, and it annoyed Bradley more than the red-card decision.

Rovers tried to rally and were helped by the Saints being laboured in possession. Buckley summoned the experience of Killian Brennan and the pace of Thomas Byrne for the final stages to try and turn the tide.

They both played their part with Byrne fouled by Kavanagh and ex-Hoop Brennan calmly slotting home the penalty and winding up the away fans by celebrating in front of them.

A few objects were hurled in anger, and Byrne was booked for overdoing the taunting, but nothing was going to take away from the Saints' enjoyment.

ST Pat's 2

Shamrock R 0

St Patrick's Athletic - Murphy; Madden, Toner, Desmond, Bermingham; R Brennan (Kelly 88), Lennon; C Byrne, Markey, (K Brennan 83) Clarke; Keegan (T Byrne 84)

Shamrock Rovers - Horgan; O'Brien, Lopes, Grace; Boyle, G Bolger, A Bolger (Miele 76), Kavanagh; Finn, Burke; Carr (Shaw 70).

REF - G Kelly (Cork).

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