WATCH: Ronan Finn finishes off slick team move as Shamrock Rovers get back to winning ways
Shamrock Rovers 1 St Patrick's Athletic 0
AFTER two bruising defeats, Shamrock Rovers desperately needed to get back in the winning habit here.
The league leaders achieved that mission without necessarily setting the world alight against a St Patrick’s Athletic side that caused them problems for spells.
Still, the task for Stephen Bradley’s side was to regain momentum and he will take positives from how his team responded to a challenging week.
With defenders Lee Grace and Trevor Clarke back from suspension and Greg Bolger available again in front of the back four, they were a more solid proposition than the side which was picked open frequently in Dundalk on Friday.
And the win was secured from the most incisive passage of play.
With Ireland U-21 coach Keith Andrews in the stands, along with the Ireland U-17 squad preparing for Friday’s European Championships kick-off, it was fitting that a promising young talent – 18-year-old Brandon Kavanagh – was responsible.
Another view? Why not 😉 pic.twitter.com/LESJkJTemM— Shamrock Rovers FC 🇮🇪 (@ShamrockRovers) April 29, 2019
Kavanagh was selected on the right side with Jack Byrne on the left, yet the descriptions of their positions do not adequately describe their movements as they both cut inside regularly to link play.
Kavanagh’s quality told in the 34th minute as he darted infield and was involved twice in a quickfire passing move that culminated with his assist for a crisp Ronan Finn finish, with the Rovers skipper happy to be back in his preferred central position after his enforced right-back cameo at Oriel Park.
Rovers had experienced some discomfort prior to that. The guests went with two up front and tried to press up high on the Rovers rearguard at every opportunity, perhaps taking inspiration from Bohs’ success at this venue last Tuesday.
They unsettled the league leaders by sending bodies forward when keeper Alan Mannus or centre-halves Lee Grace and Roberto Lopes were trying to play the ball out of their own penalty area and Pat’s tried to do the same.
Rovers got over that rocky spell, but Pat’s came back into the match after the restart and continued to apply pressure, even though they lost Rhys McCabe after a blow to the head.
But the hosts actually created the better opportunities in response, with Kavanagh’s replacement Dan Carr squandering a pair of chances to put the result beyond doubt.
Harry Kenny turned to his bench in search of inspiration and the best chance of a leveller fell to sub Dean Clarke, with the alert Darragh Markey sending a quick free in his direction. Alan Mannus was equal to the task when Clarke manufactured the space to the shoot.
Chants of ‘super keeper’ at full-time showed that the natives appreciated the importance.
SHAMROCK ROVERS – Mannus, O’Brien, Lopes, Grace, Clarke; Bolger; B Kavanagh (Carr 63), Finn, McEneff, Byrne (Watts 87); Greene (Vojic 80)
ST PATRICK’S ATH – B Clarke, Webster, Kelly, Desmond; Madden, Markey, Lennon, McCabe (Forrester 52), Bermingham (Doona 85); Drennan, Shaw (D Clarke 76)
REF – B Connolly (Dublin)