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Dublin: 13°C Sunday 16 May 2021

Late Kilduff header earns Rovers a point against Collins' Derry

Derry had a chance to secure the victory, but Rory Patterson missed a one-on-one late on.

Shamrock Rovers' Ryan Brennan with Michael Duffy of Derry City.
Shamrock Rovers' Ryan Brennan with Michael Duffy of Derry City.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Shamrock Rovers 1-1 Derry City

CIARAN KILDUFF’S HEADER deep into stoppage time saved Shamrock Rovers and denied Roddy Collins a winning return to Tallaght Stadium.

Derry will have a long journey home to reflect on a game they looked destined to win thanks to Mark Stewart’s looping shot early in the second half.

They would have made sure of the points had Rory Patterson been that little bit more clinical with a one-on-one late on.

And that miss was punished in the third of six additional minutes when Kilduff steered his header over Ger Doherty to snatch a point.

The memory of last year’s league disappointment still lingers in Tallaght and even though Trevor Croly was spared a home defeat on opening weekend, this was a performance that will give teams little reason to fear a visit to the Hoops.

Rovers fans will rightly point out that it is still early days — only three of today’s starting XI were at the club at the end of last season — and goals galore in pre-season, as well as the sight of Stephen McPhail and Ronan Finn on the bench, will reassure them that better days lie ahead.

They face a trip to Premier Division new boys Athlone next week and from the stands, their manager Mick Cooke saw a blueprint of how to stifle Croly’s side in a first half that could generously be described as dull.

Rovers were determined to get the ball down and play but after an early period of possession led to nothing more than a few half-chances, Derry’s high pressing forced them into a more direct approach.

Even with the physical presences of Kilduff and Eamon Zayed up front, the long balls played into the hands of the Derry back four, marshalled by the experienced Cliff Byrne and man of the match Ryan McBride.

It’s easy to see why Collins has handed the captain’s armband to Byrne, a player with bags of experience in English football. He led throughout, even barking instructions from the sideline when he was forced off to have a facial cut cleaned up.

It really wasn’t until the stroke of half-time that either side created a real opportunity. Robert Cornwall, making his league debut for Rovers at right-full, got to the byline and whipped in an inviting cross which Byrne dived to head behind. Had he not intervened, Zayed was arriving and would most likely have scored.

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Derry’s goal came two minutes after the restart and was one that Barry Murphy would rather the RTE cameras weren’t there to see.

Barry Molloy spread the ball out wide to Stewart and his looping cross dropped over the scrambling keeper’s head and just inside the back post.

Ryan Brennan could have levelled matters five minutes later when he pounced on a moment of hesitation from Shane McEleney inside the box but his strike came back off the legs of Ger Doherty.

Croly looked to McPhail and later Finn for a creative spark but Derry looked as likely to score themselves, with Pat McEleney a lively threat when he came off the bench.

Rovers did have a penalty shout when Kilduff and Doherty collided under a high ball but it was rightly waved away by referee Paul McLaughlin.

Derry looked destined to leave with the points but after Murphy slid in to deny Patterson his one-on-one, Kilduff placed his header just out of reach to send the home fans home relieved, if not totally happy.

Shamrock Rovers: Murphy, Cornwall, Kenna (c), D O’Connor (McGuinness, 64), Byrne, McCabe (Finn, 77), Brennan, Bayly (McPhail, 52), Waters, Zayed, Kilduff.

Substitutes: Hyland, McGuinness, McPhail, Finn, Sheppard, Kelly, S O’Connor.

Derry City: Doherty, Collins, Byrne, McBride, Barry, S McEleney (P McEleney, 56), Molloy, Ventre, Duffy (Curran, 88), Stewart, Curran (Patterson, 56).

Substitutes: Patterson, P McEleney, Elebert, Curran, Jarvis, Fox, Lynch.

Referee: Paul McLaughlin.

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Niall Kelly

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