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Rory Gaffney goal earns Shamrock Rovers derby win over Bohemians

It finished 1-0 at Tallaght Stadium.

Rory Gaffney celebrates his goal.
Rory Gaffney celebrates his goal.
Image: Evan Treacy/INPHO

Shamrock Rovers 1

Bohemians 0  

ONE OF THE Tallaght stadium floodlights failed midway through the first-half of this Dublin derby – the signal for its failure the steam that puffed from its sides -  and as it emitted more heat than light, it proved an apt metaphor for this Dublin derby. The game was typically spiky, with six yellow cards and the usual songs about Andy Lyons, but was won by a sub-par Shamrock Rovers against a Bohs side whose preppy, enterprising performance was terribly undermined by a lack of clear-cut scoring chances. 

Rovers weren’t at their best but won the game with a flurry of activity in the early stages of the second-half, Rory Gaffney steering the ball home from close range seconds after he was denied the opening goal by a fabulous save by Tadhg Ryan, continuing in goal in James Talbot’s injury absence. 

Ciarán Kelly’s suspension and Tyreke Wilson’s injury depleted the Bohs back-line, with Jordan Doherty dropping to centre-back and Jordan Flores redeployed in an unfamiliar left-back role. That piece of shapeshifting at least gave Bohs an attacking threat from left-back, and it was early in the game when Flores first pinged a gorgeous pass behind the Rovers defence for Liam Burt, who was foiled by Roberto Lopes’ clean-cut challenge. 

Bohs were more direct than Rovers and played primarily on the counter but there was a purpose, speed and conviction about most of their first-half attacks.

Burt skated away from a series of challenges when a Rovers attack broke down and pulled his shot wide of Alan Mannus’ post, and Lee Grace made a superb defensive header to steer Flores’ cross away from danger after a typically slick Bohs counter. But for all their good work between the boxes, Bohs didn’t work Alan Mannus often enough in the first-half, a fact that has been a frequent post-game lament of Keith Long’s this season. Burt fell to his knees 12 minutes before the break knowing he should have, skewing Devoy’s inviting lay-off over the crossbar from the edge of the box. 

Missing Jack Byrne and Richie Towell, Rovers were fitful and imprecise throughout the first-half, looking to Danny Mandroiu for any inspiration. He stung Tadhg Ryan’s gloves early in the game with a free-kick from distance, and closed the first-half by cutting inside and sending a shot whistling narrowly over the crossbar after Ryan miscued his clearance. Aaron Greene, meanwhile, should have done better than tamely wide from close range after he was picked out by Andy Lyons’ cross from the right-wing. 

Half-time lifted Rovers from their torpor. They should have been ahead in the second half’s first minute, they were in it’s second. Pouncing on a loose ball on the edge of the box, Watts arced a perfect pass to Gaffney at the back post, whose tap-in was saved brilliantly at point-blank range by a splayed Ryan. 

The goalkeeper’s heroics were then instantly undone from the resulting corner. Watts’ hoisted the cross to the back post where it was met by Mandroiu, and Gaffney swivelled to help his team-mate’s header into the net. 

Bohs held an inquest posing as a huddle in the box as Rovers celebrated, but the exchange didn’t solve their issues on set pieces: Levingston headed Sean Hoare’s free header off the line minutes later. Bohs’ counter-attacking threat dwindled as Rovers turned the screw: Stephen Bradley looked at the Rovers fans behind the bench in disbelief when Mandroiu looped a header off the crossbar from Gaffney’s tee-up.  

Bohs’ again toiled for opportunities. Mannus had to be sharp to push away  Ali Coote’s shot from range, while, Liam Burt ran down a couple of blind alleys at the end of which were tame shots at Mannus. 

As the second half wore on, however, Rovers grip of the game loosened slightly and then slightly more, allowing Bohs gain encouragement. They were close to their equaliser 10 minutes from the end: Promise glanced a corner to the far post, where Junior threw himself at the ball but missed it entirely. That seemed to prod Rovers into remembering their supremacy on set pieces, as a minute later Flores was scrambling back toward his own line to clear Grace’s header from another unnerring Watts delivery. 

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stephen-bradley Stephen Bradley. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Bradley swapped Mandroiu for Barry Cotter as Rovers dug in to hold their lead for the final few minutes, but in truth, they were never under any true pressure. 

The Shamrock Rovers manager embraced his assistant Glenn Cronin at full-time, and the Rovers squad and staff held a huddle in front of the South Stand as chants of ‘There’s only one Stephen Bradley’ rang around the ground. Bradley revealed earlier this week that his young son is ill, and the stadium rose in applause and recognition in the game’s eighth minute, which Bradley reciprocated to all sides of the ground. Tonight proved a balm to his difficult week. 

Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Andy Lyons; Sean Hoare, Roberto Lopes (captain), Lee Grace; Sean Kavanagh (Sean Gannon, 67′); Gary O’Neill, Dylan Watts; Danny Mandroiu (Barry Coter, 88′), Aaron Greene (Aidomo Emakhu, 77′); Rory Gaffney (Chris McCann, 77′)

Bohemians: Tadgh Ryan; Max Murphy, Rory Feely, Jordan Doherty, Jordan Flores ; Ali Coote (Kris Twaredk, 70′), Dawson Devoy, Conor Levingston (captain), Promise Omochere; Liam Burt (Stephen Mallon, 85′, Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe, 

Referee: Rob Harvey 

Attendance: 7,445

About the author:

Gavin Cooney  / reports from Tallaght Stadium

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