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McEneff haunts Derry again as Rovers earn big away victory

Stephen Bradley’s side were 2-0 winners at the Brandywell tonight.

McEneff celebrates his second-half penalty.
McEneff celebrates his second-half penalty.
Image: Evan Logan/INPHO

Derry City 0

Shamrock Rovers 2

Simon Collins reports from the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium

FORMER BRANDYWELL favourite Aaron McEneff broke Derry City hearts as he netted from the penalty spot to give Shamrock Rovers the edge in a bruising battle on Foyleside.

It was the midfielder’s second spot-kick against his former club this season and his 65th-minute penalty broke the deadlock after Jack Byrne was brought down inside the penalty area.

Derry’s leading scorer David Parkhouse then missed the chance to keep his impressive goal tally going when his penalty was saved superbly by Alan Mannus at the other end.

And Rovers punished them when playmaker Byrne, who was named in Mick McCarthy’s provisional Ireland squad for next month’s doubleheader against Switzerland and Bulgaria, provided the pass for Aaron Greene to seal a second Brandywell win of the season for Stephen Bradley’s troops.

It was a forgettable night for Derry who dropped into fourth spot behind Bohemians who ran riot against UCD at Dalymount Park to take pole position in the race for Europe.

Derry did, however, begin with purpose despite facing into a strong wind and after a neat build-up involving skipper McNamee, who touched the ball invitingly into the path of Bruna, the Argentine tried his luck from 25 yards but his shot deflected narrowly behind.

Neither team could get control of proceedings during a scrappy opening with Derry working hard off the ball to deny Rovers space in dangerous areas of the pitch.

There was a couple of meaty tackles from both sides with Derry’s Ciaron Harkin and Rovers’ duo Lee Grace and Ronan Finn finding their way into referee’s book early doors.

Rovers survived a dangerous free-kick whipped in by Bruna from the left which was directed narrowly over his own crossbar by the retreating Finn on the half hour.

The Hoops forced a terrific save from Peter Cherrie who parried Graham Burke’s left-footed strike from 12 yards after Derry had failed to clear from a corner kick on 38 minutes.

Bruna, who signed a new contract with the Candystripes this week, fired a blistering strike just wide of Mannus’ goal two minutes before the break.

Barry McNamee and Jack Byrne Jack Byrne and Barry McNamee battle for possession. Source: Evan Logan/INPHO

Kavanagh got in behind the Derry defence for the first time on the stroke of half-time and drilled his cross across the face of the goal but no one had gambled and the City defence were able to mop up the danger.

The home side started the second half brightly and from a quick counter, McNamee spread the play wide to McDonagh on the right and he drove his powerful shot just wide of the far post.

Derry were beginning to find space in behind the Rovers defence and when McNamee cleverly stepped over the ball on the edge of the area from McDonagh’s pass inside, Harkin blasted his shot high over the bar.

The breakthrough came at the other end, though. Greene raced in behind Ciaran Coll and drove into the penalty area before cutting the ball back towards Byrne who went down under the challenge of Sloggett and the referee pointed to the spot.

Up stepped ex-City midfielder McEneff who coolly sent Cherrie the wrong way and the ball nestled into the right-hand corner of the net to give Rovers the lead.

Derry were awarded a penalty of their own eight minutes later as the referee decided Greg Bolger had fouled Parkhouse inside the area.

The big striker placed the ball on the spot looking for his 18th goal of the season but his effort was saved superbly by a strong hand from Mannus.

Four minutes later, Rovers struck a further blow after a neat one-two. Byrne played a superb pass into the path of Greene who drove into the box before firing into the far corner to seal the win and keep Rovers’ chances of catching runaway leaders Dundalk alive. 

DERRY CITY: P. Cherrie: D. Cole, E. Toal, A. Gilchrist, C. Coll: J. McDonagh, G. Sloggett, G. Bruna (D. McCauley 79), C. Harkin (M. McCrudden 74); B. McNamee (J. Malone 74); D. Parkhouse.

SHAMROCK ROVERS: A. Mannus: E. Boyle, R. Lopes, L. Grace, S. Kavanagh; J. Byrne, A. McEneff (D. Watts 79), G. Bolger (B. Kavanagh 87), G. Burke (G. O’Neill 77); R. Finn; A. Greene.

Referee: Robert Hennessy.

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About the author:

Simon Collins

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