Shamrock Rovers' midfield duo do the derby damage on St Pat's in Inchicore
St Patrick's Athletic 0 Shamrock Rovers 2
This week’s signing of striker Graham Cummins is a sign that Shamrock Rovers are keen to add a bit more punch to their attack, but their midfield players did what was needed in front of goal and put a tame-looking St Patrick’s Athletic to the sword last night.
In need of a victory, Rovers got just that, coming away from Richmond Park with a comfortable win which at least keeps champions and league leaders Dundalk in their sights, the goals for Rovers coming from midfielders Greg Bolger and Seán Kavanagh.
Their next four league games are all against teams from the bottom half of the table, matches the Hoops will be expected to win and their run of fixtures gives them time to allow new signings Cummins, Neil Farrugia and Gary O’Neill to bed in.
But it’s the tests against other sides in the top four like Dundalk, Bohemians and Derry City where Rovers have struggled, their inability to put chances away costing them dearly and contributing to that eight-point lead held by Dundalk, which is where the likes of Cummins come in, though they did the needful last night, Rovers functional enough to swat away the challenge from the Saints.
The pressure was on the away side before a ball was kicked at a sun-kissed Richmond Park.
Rovers had taken just one point from their previous three games and with Dundalk expected to win their game last night at home to a struggling Waterford side, which they did with ease, defeat here would have been catastrophic in terms of the title race for Rovers.
Bradley's side deserved their lead at the break as they were dominant in terms of possession and chances, Pat's only troubling Rovers once in that first 45 minutes when former Rovers man Mikey Drennan should have given Alan Mannus a sterner test with his shot.
That moment of danger seemed to cause Rovers to move up a gear as they’d been in control to that point, without much to show in terms of end product, Pat's not helping themselves with some indecisive defending.
With the combination of no cutting edge from Rovers and some last-gasp defending from Pat’s with bodies put in the way of danger, it looked as if the frustration would seep into the second half for the away side, but a minute into added time Bolger picked up on a pass from Jack Byrne, bore down on goal and fired past Brendan Clarke.
And on 49 minutes, Rovers had the goal which killed off their rivals, and killed off the tie. Awarded a free-kick on the edge of the area for a foul on Dylan Watts, Seán Kavanagh decided that he, and not the usual dead ball expert Byrne, was taking it, and the effort went right past Clarke.
With winger Dean Clarke off the bench for the start of the second half, Pat’s tried to spark a revival, Rovers needing right-back Joey O'Brien to put his body on the line and block a dangerous-looking effort from sub James Doona, and on 83 minutes Lee Grace was on hand to clear but Pat's looked toothless when it came to that final ball.
St Patrick’s Athletic: B Clarke; Madden, Toner, Desmond, Bermingham; Lennon, Clifford (McCabe 27); Coleman, Forrester (Doona 67), Walker (D Clarke 46); Drennan.
Shamrock Rovers: Mannus; O’Brien, Grace, Lopes, Clarke; Bolger, Watts (Oluwa 85); Finn (B Kavanagh 77), Byrne, S Kavanagh; Carr (Greene 46).
Referee: G Kelly