Lopes and O'Brien keep Hoops' title dreams on track
Shamrock Rovers 2 Cork City 0
The habit of their defenders contributing goals has, once again, helped Shamrock Rovers do what they need to do to sustain their title challenge.
The clean sheet and three points from a 2-0 win at home to Cork City, secured with goals from defenders Joey O'Brien and Roberto Lopes, made this a blemish-free night for the Hoops, the only disappointment that news from Louth of a late win, another one, for Dundalk which denied Rovers outright leadership of the league table
Rovers have not had to rely on one man for goals this season and it was two of the back four who delivered last night, full back O'Brien and centre half Lopes scoring in the space of nine minutes in the second half, Rovers comfortable all evening as Cork lacked the punch needed to trouble them.
The first half was a frustrating spell for Rovers as they had long spells of possession but were unable to make it count. Rovers had their first real threat on 11 minutes when Trevor Clarke forced a save from McNulty. On 18 minutes Clarke was at it again, this time a cross from the left curling in and smacking the crossbar.
City had a lucky escape on 38 minutes when a free kick from dead ball expert Jack Byrne fell for Roberto Lopes but he flashed wide.
Patience was key for Rovers with plenty of good approach work from midfield but still no goals, as Aaron Greene went wide with a header from Byrne's free kick on 50 minutes.
Soon the home side had their lead. The move was started by Clarke, his ball gave Ronan Finn time and his cross was met by O'Brien who fired home his first for the club.
And O'Brien played a role in his side's second goal. His headed effort forced a save from McNulty which led to a corner, and from that corner kick by Byrne, defender Lopes was free at the far post to head it over the line. Cork did show some fight late on but Rovers looked more likely to score.
ROVERS - Mannus; O'Brien, Lopes, Grace, Clarke; Bolger; Byrne, Watts (B Kavanagh 80), Finn, Carr (Boyle 75); Greene (Dillon 85).
CORK - McNulty; Horgan, McCarthy, McLoughlin, K O'Connor; Morrissey (Phillips 66), Buckley (O'Brien-Whitmarsh 80), McCormack; D O'Connor (Cummins 70), Sheppard, Tilley.
REF - R Harvey