Shamrock Rovers open up a lead at the top as McEneff settles South Dublin derby

The midfielder scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot to see off St Patrick’s Athletic.

St Patrick’s Athletic 0
Shamrock Rovers 1

Dave Donnelly reports from Richmond Park

SHAMROCK ROVERS MOVED two points clear at the top of the Premier Division with tonight’s hard-fought victory over St Patrick’s Athletic.

Aaron McEneff celebrates scoring a goal Aaron McEneff of Shamrock Rovers celebrates after scoring against St Patrick's Athletic. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Aaron McEneff scored the game’s only goal with just seven points on the clock, converting from the penalty spot after Kevin Toner fouled Aaron Greene in the box.

The midfielder had scored a sensational Panenka-style penalty to seal the win against his former side Derry City two weeks ago, but he changed tack this time to calmly side-foot past Brendan Clarke.

The visitors suffered their only defeat of the season 11 days ago in their first Dublin derby against Bohemians at Dalymount Park, and they looked determined to right that wrong from the off.

It was a mistake from Lee Desmond that led to the opening goal, the defender slipping on the ball to allow Greene run in on goal. Toner had no option but to at least attempt a sliding tackle, but he clipped the striker from behind and referee Neil Doyle pointed to the spot.

Rovers would go on to dominate the rest of the half and McEneff was at the heart of everything, while Jack Byrne pulled the strings in his finest performance yet in the hoops of Tallaght.

McEneff kicked off a slick passing move from his own box that should have resulted in Dan Carr netting a second. And the Derryman was on the end of another seamless exchange of passes, Greene back-heeling into his path before the 23-year-old blazed over.

Greg Bolger and Michael Drennan Greg Bolger of Shamrock Rovers under pressure from St Patrick's Athletic's Mikey Drennan. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

The Saints should have equalised before the break as one ex-Hoop in Brandon Miele, the home sides’ best player throughout, found another in Mikey Drennan, but he headed wide from point-blank range.

That was as good as it was got for Pat’s and Rovers would have added to their lead were it not for the heroics of Brendan Clarke. The goalkeeper twice denied Joey O’Brien, first with a stunning reaction stop and then an acrobatic diving effort.

Greene was left red-faced when he volleyed wide at an open goal after a mix-up between Clarke and Toner, before Clarke again saved when the striker was sent through on goal in injury time.

Pat’s did have one chance late on as a corner was turned goalwards, but Trevor Clarke was able to hook clear and ensure Stephen Bradley’s side took a deserved three points.

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ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC: Brendan Clarke; Simon Madden, Kevin Toner, Lee Desmond, Ian Bermingham; Jamie Lennon, Conor Clifford (Gary Shaw, 65), Rhys McCabe, Brandon Miele (Dean Clarke, 65), Chris Forrester (James Doona, 74), Mikey Drennan.

SHAMROCK ROVERS: Alan Mannus; Joey O’Brien, Roberto Lopes, Lee Grace, Trevor Clarke; Greg Bolger, Aaron McEneff, Ronan Finn (Sam Bone, 90); Jack Byrne (Dylan Watts, 79), Dan Carr (Sean Kavanagh, 75), Aaron Greene.

Referee: Neil Doyle (Dublin).

Andy Dunne joins Murray Kinsella and Ryan Bailey to discuss Joe Schmidt’s undroppables and how France might attack Ireland’s predictability in The42 Rugby Weekly.

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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