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Controversial penalty and sending off the turning point as Rovers win derby against Bohs

Shamrock Rovers won a thrilling game 2-1.

James Finnerty fouls Danny Mandroiu in the game's crucial moment.
James Finnerty fouls Danny Mandroiu in the game's crucial moment.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Shamrock Rovers 2

Bohemians 1

AN EMPTY GROUND made this a Dublin Derby in name only, though it ended in familiar circumstances: mired in controversy after a red card against penalty that went against Bohemians, leaving them with a scantly-deserved 2-1 defeat against their great rivals. 

The crucial moment came 15 minutes from the end, as James Finnerty saw red for tangling with Danny Mandroiu in the penalty box. Replays showed the sending off was harsh – if it was a foul it was hard to argue Finnerty made no effort to play the ball – but Graham Burke converted the penalty for what proved to be the game’s winning goal. 

“Disruption” was football’s euphemism for the roiling week, so pleasingly this game ignored even the thought of it. For years, these derbies have been taut arm-wrestles, but  perhaps liberated from the tension wrought by a packed and fulminating stadium, tonight both sides slugged it out from the opening bell like Hearns and Hagler. 

The first jab was Rovers’, as Aaron Greene popped the ball off his chest for Mandroiu, who slid a terrific pass for Graham Burke to see a second-minute shot blocked by James Talbot.

Shortly after, Dylan Watts landed the first significant blow, turning home from close range after Burke was denied by the post. Rovers threatened to overwhelm Bohs in the opening 10 minutes, until Bohs finally found their counter-punch: Georgie Kelly allowing a Keith Ward roll through for Liam Burt, who curled a shot wide from the edge of the six-yard box. It was a glorious opportunity, but it emboldened Bohs, and they were level within 15 minutes of Watts’ opener, as Ross Tierney nodded home a delightful, arcing Ali Coote cross. 

It was 1-1 at the break, but should have been 2-2 – Aaron Greene pulled a one-on-one with Talbot wide to give Burt’s earlier miss a counterpart – and might have been much more: take your pick from Mandroiu’s tame finish in the box from a corner; Georgie Kelly’s forcing Alan Mannus into a low save at the near post; Graham Burke’s delayed and ultimately blocked shot in the penalty area; or a goalmouth scramble in front of Alan Mannus. 

Bohs were the better side after the break, attacking with exuberance and causing problems down the flanks, particularly down the left through Burt and the overlapping Tyreke Wilson. One break down that wing brought howls from the Bohs contingent, when Burt was hauled down by Gannon as he closed in on goal. The referee brandished yellow; Bohs wanted red. 

That was only the beginning of the controversy. With 15 minutes remaining, substitute Rory Gaffney cushioned a pass off to the onrushing Danny Mandroiu, who was soon splayed on the ground having collided with James Finnerty. Referee Paul McLaughlin immediately pointed to the spot and gave Finnerty a straight red card to general Bohs disbelief.

Talbot clawed at Burke’s penalty but couldn’t keep it out. 

If the first half of this game was uncharacteristically open, the final quarter saw the return of its familiar ire toward the referee: when Sean Hoare wasn’t carded for a late, late challenge, somebody from the Bohs contingent booed him. 

Bohs threw everything at the Rovers goal in the closing stages, with Mannus twice flapping at crosses amid a scramble that Rovers eventually hacked clear. Rovers withstood a late barrage to cling on for a victory. 

Bohs will feel they deserved more, but they ultimately leave Tallaght with little more than grievance.

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Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Sean Hoare, Roberto Lopes (captain), Lee Grace; Sean Gannon (Ronan Finn, 56′), Chris McCann (Rory Gaffney, 70′), Dylan Watts (Gary O’Neill, 63′), Liam Scales; Daniel Mandroiu, Graham Burke; Aaron Greene 

Bohemians: James Talbot; Andy Lyons, James Finnerty, Rob Cornwall, Tyreke Wilson; Liam Burt, Keith Buckley (captain), Ali Coote (Conor Levingston, 79′); Keith Ward (Ciaran Kelly, 76′), Georgie Kelly, Ross Tierney 

Referee: Paul McLaughlin 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney  / reports from Tallaght Stadium

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