Laszlo Geczo/INPHO Aaron Greene celebrates scoring Shamrock Rovers' second goal.
# Champions Elect
Shamrock Rovers move 12 points clear at the top with 2-0 win against Sligo
Danny Mandroiu and Aaron Greene supplied the goals at Tallaght Stadium.

SHAMROCK ROVERS MOVED 12 points clear at the top of the Premier Division as they eased to a 2-0 win over Sligo Rovers on Friday night.

First-half goals from Danny Mandroiu and Aaron Greene proved enough as a combination of Ed McGinty and the woodwork kept the score close to the end.

The Ireland U21 keeper pulled off a succession of top-class saves to keep his side in touch but the gap in class was apparent long before the final whistle.

It’s easy to forget that, for the first half of the season, Sligo were seen as the biggest threat to Rovers’ title aspirations, but a dip in form since the summer saw St Patrick’s Athletic take that mantle.

The Athletic’s slip-up away to Derry City increased the gap to 12 points with just six games remaining, leaving Rovers needing a maximum of seven points to retain the title.

That begins with the visit of Bohemians on Monday night and, with Longford to come next week, Rovers could have six of those points already in the bag when Pats next play.

They certainly looked more like themselves than they did in Oriel Park a week earlier as they struggled to break down a stubborn Dundalk side.

Mandroiu produced a pure solo effort to put them in front inside 10 minutes as he pounced on a David Cawley effort high up the pitch.

The midfielder drove into the box and bamboozled Garry Buckley before shooting low past McGinty.

Lee Grace headed Dylan Watts’ corner onto the bar shortly afterwards before a super McGinty save denied Ronan Finn a second.

The goal did arrive just past the half-hour, Mandroiu dispossessing Buckley this time and weighting his pass perfectly for Greene.

The former Sligo man showed great composure to wait for McGinty to commit before lifting the ball delicately over his head and into the net.

Rovers hit the woodwork no fewer than three times late on, as Roberto Lopes headed off the post and Rory Gaffney smashed a shot off the opposite one.

Neil Farrugia then hit the bar in injury time after McGinty had once again done well to deny Greene from close range.

SHAMROCK ROVERS: Alan Mannus; Sean Gannon, Roberto Lopes, Lee Grace; Ronan Finn (Sean Hoare 65), Gary O’Neill (Sean Kavanagh 72), Dylan Watts (Chris McCann 65), Barry Cotter (Neil Farrugia 65); Richie Towell, Danny Mandroiu (Rory Gaffney 77), Aaron Greene.

SLIGO ROVERS: Ed McGinty; Lewis Banks, John Mahon, Garry Buckley, Robbie McCourt (Regan Donelon 15); David Cawley (Mark Byrne 63), Seamas Keogh (Johnny Kenny 46), Adam McDonnell; Walter Figueira, Melvyn Lorenzon (Colm Horgan 63), Andre Wright (Romeo Parkes 63).

Referee: Rob Hennessy (Limerick). 

Bernard Jackman, Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey discuss depth in Munster, Nathan Doak’s Ireland prospects, and whether rugby is survival of the richest on The42 Rugby Weekly

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