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Dublin: 3 °C Tuesday 12 November, 2019
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McEneff returns to haunt Derry City in deserved Rovers win

The fans packed into the new stand at Tallaght Stadium enjoyed a successful opening night.

Aaroon McEneff celebrates in front of the new stand at Tallaght Stadium.
Aaroon McEneff celebrates in front of the new stand at Tallaght Stadium.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Shamrock Rovers 2

Derry City 0

Gavin Cooney reports from Tallaght Stadium 

AARON MCENEFF WAS given cause to consider the old and new in Tallaght tonight, as he scored the first goal in front of the newly opened South Stand against his former side.

The goal was an impudent, dinked penalty, and sealed a 2-0 win that began with Dylan Watts’ volley on the half-hour mark. 

It was a deserved win for Rovers in front of a raucous new stand, having endured Derry’s impetuous start. 

The visitors flew into tackles and addled Rovers’ minds, with a backtracking Watts miscontrolling an early ball to the extent Alan Mannus had to come from his line to hack the ball clear. 

Rovers, however, created the best chances. McEneff slid a ball through the Derry defence to send Aaron Greene clear, but his shot was too close to Peter Cherrie who parried the ball away.

Having been denied by Cherrie, Greene was denied minutes later by the linesman’s flag: Dan Carrs – who had Josh Kerr on toast all night – ghosted past the Derry right-back and rolled the ball across to the back post, where Greene turned it in. 

Rovers continued to dominate, and looked best when weaving triangles in midfield with McEneff, Watts, Finn and Jack Byrne, who didn’t exactly stick to his right-hand berth with religious zeal. Byrne looked best when he drifted centrally, and he whipped a thirty-yard effort narrowly over Cherrie’s crossbar. 

Byrne showed further promise from a central area seven minutes later: the promise of a one-two with Carr on the edge of the penalty area was blunted when the Derry defence ushered Byrne away from goal, but it wasn’t to matter as Rovers took the lead within a minute. 

Sean Kavanagh’s cross on the left-wing wasn’t dealt led to a small rally of head-tennis, and a loitering Dylan Watts had drilled the ball into Cherrie’s bottom right-hand corner before Ciaran Harkin’s sliced clearance had a chance to hit the ground. 

Rovers continued to dominate, with Derry’s ambitions of exploiting space behind left-back Kavanagh badly dented by the wind, which continued to sweep insolently across the Tallaght pitch…despite the erection of the South Stand. 

With that wind at their backs in the second-half, Derry decided to see what benefit it might be: McNamee’s from 40 yards earned a corner; Stokes’ from five yards closer whistled over Mannus’ crossbar. 

This prefaced Derry’s best spell, with replacement right-back Jamie McDonagh bringing with him an improvement in the quality of dead-ball delivery.

It was Rovers, however, who created the best chance on the counter-attack: Jack Byrne’s stabbed a ball into space on the left for Sean Kavanagh. If his dink over Eoin Toal was Gazzaesque, the volley was less so, with Cherrie pushing the ball around the post and denying him the first goal to be scored in front of the new stand. 

That honour fell to McEneff 12 minutes from time. A Trevor Clarke through ball sent his fellow substitute Orhan Vojic lumbering clear, and although he was going away from goal, his tame shot hit McDonagh’s arm as he threw himself in front of it. 

McEneff cooly chipped his penalty down the middle, with Cherrie having time to look back and watch the ball nestle in the net. “He’s one of our own” sang the Rovers fans as McEneff celebrated in front of them. 

McDonagh’s night was to get worse, as he was given a straight red card for a robust tackle on Trevor Clarke five minutes from time. 

McEneff skewed a volley wide in injury time with the last kick of the game. A deserved win for Rovers, and having won against a couple of faces known to him tonight, McEneff will be introduced to his club’s familiar foes at Dalymount Park on Monday night. 

SHAMROCK ROVERS: Mannus; Boyle, Grace, Lopes, S. Kavanagh; McEneff, Watts (G Bolger 63′); Byrne, Finn (captain), Carr (Clarke 61′); Greene (Vojic 72′)

DERRY CITY: Cherrie; Kerr (McDonagh 45′), Toal, Gilchrist, McClean; Harkin, Sloggett (Bruna 74′), McNamee (captain); Stokes, Parkhouse, Ogedi-Uzokwe (McCrudden 62′) 

Referee: Robert Hennessy

Attendance: 4,522

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About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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