Monday 21 May 2018

Watch: Shamrock Rovers' Graham Burke scores stunning 25-yard goal with Martin O'Neill watching on

Shamrock Rovers 3 Cork City 0

Graham Burke of Shamrock Rovers
Graham Burke of Shamrock Rovers
Roberto Lopes (4) scores Shamrock Rovers’ third goal against Cork City last night. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

In the midst of a manic fixture schedule, this was a magic Monday for Stephen Bradley's Shamrock Rovers.

Tactical changes and talented players helped to deliver this emphatic success over a Cork City side that completely lost the efficiency that gave them victory over Dundalk 72 hours earlier.

Bradley desperately needed this victory after a month - and six games - without a win had placed pressure on his shoulders. There were signs of encouragement in Derry on Friday, however, with a switch to three at the back allowing their capable midfield players to dominate that area.

They still gave Cork chances, but it was telling that Bradley was able to withdraw the inspirational Graham Burke to a standing ovation with 15 minutes to go. The points were in the bag.

Burke had delivered the perfect start just as Ireland manager Martin O'Neill was arriving to take his seat. And if the 24-year-old keeps scoring goals of his quality, then he will attract the kind of attention that will inevitably bring him onto O'Neill's radar - especially with Ireland's goalscoring issues.

The former Aston Villa youth needed to get home to rebuild his confidence and the swagger was apparent when he controlled a high ball well in the third minute to create space that he capitalised upon with a stunning right-footer into the top corner.

Graham Burke celebrates scoring Rovers' opening goal. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Graham Burke celebrates scoring Rovers' opening goal. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

That's his ninth goal of the season, a decent haul considering he's more of a number ten than a poacher.

In Bradley's new system, he was essentially paired with Ronan Finn in the attempt to provide support to Gary Shaw. Greg Bolger and Aaron Bolger (no relation) sat a little deeper and they were influential.

Aaron, the younger of the two by almost a dozen years, is an 18-year-old Leaving Cert student with serious potential.

The diminutive midfielder is a talented footballer who can look after himself on the pitch too, as evidenced in a fearless approach to a 50-50 challenge with Conor McCormack where he prevailed. That was the story of the half, with McCormack below par. When he struggles, so do Cork.

Ronan Finn shrugs off a challenge from Cork City's Barry McNamee. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Ronan Finn shrugs off a challenge from Cork City's Barry McNamee. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

By 24 minutes, they were two down with left wing-back Sean Kavanagh's corner flicked in by the right wing-back Ethan Boyle. For the latter, it was a sweet moment given he's endured some tough times this term.

Adulation

Similar comments apply to young goalkeeper Kevin Horgan who also received adulation for a pair of brilliant stops to deny Garry Buckley and Barry McNamee from halving the deficit before the interval.

McCormack and Danny Kane were replaced by Caulfield in a half-time double sub with the reshuffle moving Barry McNamee to a central berth with Karl Sheppard introduced on the right. He was denied by a last-ditch Joey O'Brien tackle when racing through on goal, but Cork had enjoyed a some good luck at the other end prior to that.

Indeed, for a side that had kept four clean sheets on the trot prior to this game, they were surprisingly porous defensively and they conceded a third on the hour mark when Roberto Lopes got the final touch on a Burke free that made its way through a crowd of bodies. Cork had no response.

Players from both side's get involved during a coming together. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Players from both side's get involved during a coming together. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Shamrock Rovers - Horgan, O'Brien, Lopes, Grace; Boyle, G Bolger, A Bolger, Kavanagh; Burke (McAllister 74), Finn (Miele 81); Shaw.

Cork City - McNulty, Horgan, McLoughlin, McCarthy, Kane (Keohane 45); McCormack (Sheppard 45), Morrissey (O'Hanlon 67); McNamee, Buckley, Sadlier; Cummins.

Ref - R Rogers (Cork)

Gary Shaw holds up the ball under pressure from Danny Kane of Cork City. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Gary Shaw holds up the ball under pressure from Danny Kane of Cork City. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Irish Independent

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