No European hangover for Rovers

by Robbie Deighan

Shamrock Rovers, having exited the Champions League on Tuesday with a 2-0 home loss to FC Copenhagen, showed no signs of a European hangover as they picked up a vital away win at Dalymount against bitter rivals Bohemians.

On the morning of the game Rovers learned their next opposition on the continent would be Partizan Belgrade, in the first round of the Europa League. Should they manage to beat the Serbian side they will progress to the group stages. But Michael O’Neill had his team focused firmly on the present, and the Hoops produced a battling performance to win 1-0.

The only goal came in the 66th minute, when Billy Dennehy won a corner, took it swiftly and crossed into the box before the ball found it’s way past Bohs ‘keeper Barry Murphy, courtesy of Gary Twigg’s face. Initially there was much confusion as to who actually scored the goal, with RTE’s pundits unable to conclusively determine who got the final touch even with the aide of numerous slow-motion replays. It appears that midfielder Dean Kelly rose highest to win the header, and his attempt hit Twigg’s face and ended up in the back of the net.

Dean Kelly had almost put the Airtricity League champions in the lead during the best move of the opening 45 minutes. Great work from Dennehy and Enda Stevens, who were a constant threat all night down the left, resulted in a dangerous cross being whipped into the Bohs penalty area only for Kelly to cannon his header against the crossbar, with Stephen Rice ballooning the rebound way over the bar.

Despite the Hoops’ domination of proceedings, Bohemians do have some positives to take from the game. Hot prospect Aidan Downes came off the bench for the Gypsies and oozed confidence in his 30 minutes on the pitch. 18-year-old Christopher Forrester also came on for a brief cameo and linked up well with his fellow players.

Indeed, Bohemians best chance came in the final moments, when Forrester teed up Killian Brennan, who tried to curl an effort from outside the box around Rovers ‘keeper Ryan Thompson, only for the Jamaican to save. Aidan Downes collected the loose ball and found Ger O’Brien free just yards away from a virtually empty net. Much to the delight of the the travelling Hoops, O’Brien somehow directed his header off target.

The three points sent Rovers top of the league, albeit only for a few minutes as the full-time whistle was blown at Terryland Park, which hosted Galway United’s 3-0 defeat to Derry City.

Two goals first-half from the league’s top scorer Eamon Zayed and a late strike from Patrick McEleney propelled the Candystripes back above Rovers on goal difference at the summit of the Airtricity League.

Elsewhere, Drogheda United recorded successive victories in the league for the first time this season with a 2-1 victory away to Bray Wanderers. Goals from Dinny Corcoran and Phillip Hand were enough to dispatch the Wicklow team, who picked up a consolation goal in the 89th minute through Danny McGuinness.

Next Fixtures:

Sunday, August 7th

Dundalk vs Sligo Rovers (17:00)

St. Patrick’s Athletic vs U.C.D. (15:00)

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