Ken Sutton/INPHO Shamrock Rovers' Danny Mandroiu celebrates.
deadly duo

Jack Byrne and Danny Mandroiu combine to see Shamrock Rovers past dogged Dundalk

Brian Gartland was sent off late on, as the Hoops secured a deserved win.

Shamrock Rovers 1

Dundalk 0

SHAMROCK ROVERS earned a hard-fought 1-0 win over Dundalk in the Premier Division this evening to keep pressure on rivals Derry City at the top.

The visitors frustrated their opponents for long stretches but were undone in the second half by a superb Jack Byrne through pass to set up a clinical Danny Mandroiu finish.

It was a deserved win on the balance of play, with Dundalk content to sick back and soak up pressure for the majority of the contest, while seldom looking like scoring even after conceding.

There was further misery for the away side late on, as skipper Brian Gartland was sent off for cynically taking down substitute Aidomo Emakhu when the forward ran through on goal.

The Hoops came into this game just three points behind table-toppers Derry City following Friday’s 1-0 win over St Patrick’s Athletic.

Dundalk, meanwhile, were a further five points off Stephen Bradley’s men in third.

Stephen O’Donnell’s side were also coming off the back of a morale-boosting victory, as they overcame Sligo Rovers 2-1 at Oriel Park last week.

Rovers made four changes from the Pat’s game, with Sean Gannon, Dylan Watts (making his 100th league appearance for the club), Aaron Greene and Neil Farrugia coming in for Ronan Finn, Rory Gaffney, Sean Kavanagh and Richie Towell.

There were five alterations for Dundalk, with Brian Gartland, Sam Bone, Keith Ward, Joe Adams and Paul Doyle coming into the side in place of Andy Boyle, Pat Hoban, Steven Bradley, Robbie Benson and Dan Williams, with the latter two players ruled out through injury.

The Lilywhites were inches away from taking the lead amid a rare attack early on. A Ward free-kick lofted in from the right caused chaos in the area. The ball deflected into the path of Daniel Kelly, whose header came back off the crossbar.

Rovers, though, had most of the play in the opening stages and went close as Sean Hoare’s header from a Jack Byrne corner meant Nathan Shepperd had to be alert to keep it out.

The hosts went close again in the 19th minute. Former Dundalk man Gannon, who received an uncharitable reception from the travelling support, forced Shepperd into a save before Watts fired narrowly wide from a tight angle on the follow-up.

There was a bit of a lull period thereafter, but Mandroiu almost brought the game to life in spectacular fashion, as he shot narrowly wide from roughly 30 yards out.

The 23-year-old Dubliner had another audacious attempt moments later, as he curled an effort narrowly over, after beating his man on the edge of the area.

Dundalk had rarely threatened in the first half, but almost scored out of nothing when Kelly was played through on goal after a clever dummy from Ward, but the attacker saw his shot saved by the feet of Alan Mannus.

jack-byrne-and-greg-sloggett Ken Sutton / INPHO Jack Byrne of Shamrock Rovers and Greg Sloggett of Dundalk FC. Ken Sutton / INPHO / INPHO

Rovers remained in the ascendancy, as Byrne tested Shepperd with a powerful strike from just outside the area shortly after the restart.

There was growing frustration inside the ground, however — several passes went astray as the home side struggled to break down their well-organised opponents.

The reigning champions were in need of inspiration, and it was no surprise to see a triple substitution just after the hour-mark — Barry Cotter, Andy Lyons and Aidomo Emakhu replaced Farrugia, Gannon and Greene.

Dundalk also made a change, with Steven Bradley introduced in place of Joe Adams.

It was two starters, however, that made the difference, as Rovers took the lead out of nothing on 66 minutes.

Jack Byrne’s perfectly-weighted pass enabled Danny Mandroiu to show his pace, beating the offside trap and finishing coolly.

Dundalk had defended doggedly while offering little in attack, so it was hard to see a way back for them after going behind.

With 18 minutes remaining, two attacking changes saw the introduction of Pat Hoban and David McMillan in place of Ward and Adams.

But it was the Hoops who almost scored on the break moments later, as Emakhu ran through on the counter, but shot wide from a difficult angle.

Rovers continued to threaten, and Mandroiu shot straight at Shepperd after being found by Byrne with the game entering its dying stages.

Hopes of a Dundalk comeback were dealt a blow with three minutes remaining, as Gartland received his marching orders, picking up a second yellow for an ill-timed challenge on Emakhu.

The ensuing final minutes were relatively uneventful, as Rovers saw out the game comfortably to claim all three points.

Shamrock Rovers: 1. Alan Mannus 2. Sean Gannon (Lyons 62) 3. Sean Hoare 4. Roberto Lopes, 5. Lee Grace 7. Dylan Watts (Towell 79) 16. Gary O’Neill 23. Neil Farrugia (Cotter 62) 29. Jack Byrne (McCann 84) 14. Danny Mandroiu 9. Aaron Greene (Emakhu 62)

Subs: 25. Leon Pohls 6. Barry Cotter 8. Ronan Finn 11. Sean Kavanagh 17. Richie Towell 20. Rory Gaffney 22. Andy Lyons 26. Chris McCann 38. Aidomo Emakhu

Dundalk: 1. Nathan Shepperd 2. Lewis Macari 3. Brian Gartland 5. Mark Connolly 6. Sam Bone 15. Darragh Leahy 10. Greg Sloggett (Hoban 72) 21. Paul Doyle (O’Kane 79) 7. Daniel Kelly (Martin 79) 20. Joe Adams (Bradley 62) 17. Keith Ward (McMillan 72)

Subs: 14. Peter Cherrie 4. Andy Boyle 9. Patrick Hoban 11. John Martin 16. Steven Bradley 24. Mayowa Animasahun 25. Mark Hanratty 28. Ryan O’Kane 29. David McMillan

Referee: Ray Matthews (Westmeath)

Attendance: 5,532

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