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Dominant Rovers return to winning ways with impressive Dublin derby victory

Goals from Lee Grace, Ronan Finn and Sam Bone handed Shamrock Rovers a derby win against St Pat’s.

Rovers captain Ronan Finn celebrates with Roberto Lopes.
Rovers captain Ronan Finn celebrates with Roberto Lopes.
Image: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Shamrock Rovers 3

St Patrick’s Athletic 0

Aaron Gallagher reports from Tallaght Stadium

SHAMROCK ROVERS RECORDED their second Dublin derby win over St Pat’s at Tallaght Stadium this season with a dominant and largely one-sided 3-0 victory on Tuesday night, courtesy of goals from Lee Grace, Ronan Finn and Sam Bone.

It was the Hoops’ second league win since the start of April and marks an important three points as Stephen Bradley’s side continue their efforts to close the gap on the top four in the Premier Division.

Following a difficult run of form over the last two months, a gap of seven points separated Rovers and a European spot before kick-off, however an impressive all-round display in this derby cut that deficit to just four points ahead of a crucial trip to Dalymount Park on Friday.

Defender Grace broke the deadlock after 18 minutes with a powerful header. Midfielder Finn then doubled his side’s lead just before the break following a one-sided opening 45 minutes in which the hosts enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, with Bone making sure of the points shortly after half-time.

Stephen Bradley after the game Hoops boss Stephen Bradley. Source: Ciaran Culligan/INPHO

Rovers had to settle for a point on Saturday night with a 0-0 draw away to Sligo at the Showgrounds, in a game that marked the beginning of a hectic four days for playmaker Graham Burke, who was once again a standout performer in this encounter.

Burke played 88 minutes on Saturday, made a substitute appearance for Ireland in Scott Brown’s testimonial at Celtic Park on Sunday, and enjoyed an appreciative return to Tallaght Stadium before kick-off having made his first appearance under Martin O’Neill.

It was a pinpoint corner from the Dubliner that made the opening goal possible, with Burke’s cross meeting the untracked run of team-mate Grace, with the 25-year-old heading an emphatic effort into the far corner to make it 1-0 with less than 20 minutes played.

Rovers maintained the upper hand from thereon in, with Liam Buckley’s side struggling to impose themselves in the final third bar a missed chance from skipper Ian Bermingham, who blazed a close-range effort just beyond the crossbar while the game was still scoreless.

The Saints fell further behind just before half-time. Manager Buckley would have liked to get his troops into the changing room just a goal down but suffered a second sucker punch as stoppage time approached.

Link-up play from Sean Kavanagh and first-half substitute Joel Coustrain sent Hoops striker Dan Carr away down the left wing with space and time on his side.

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Ronan Finn scores a goal Finn scoops the ball past goalkeeper Tyson Farago to make it 2-0. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

The striker crossed early and accurately towards the front post, where midfielder Finn succeeded in poking the ball beyond the fingertips of goalkeeper Tyson Farago to make it 2-0, reinforcing his side’s deserved lead just before the interval.

It took the hosts just seven minutes after half-time to add to their lead. A Burke free-kick floated into the box was poorly headed clear by St Pat’s, with the ball falling on a plate for Bone to snatch a powerful low strike into the back of the net to make it 3-0.

The Saints came from behind twice in an impressive 5-2 victory over Derry City last Friday night, but never looked like mounting a challenge in this game following Bone’s third.

Rovers maintained the upper hand until the dying stages, with a curling Burke effort from just outside the box and a Conan Byrne strike headed clear off the line the closest either side came to adding another goal at either end.

The victory keeps Rovers in sixth spot, but cuts the deficit to a European place to four points, as the Hoops gear up for a second Dublin derby in the space of four days — facing Bohemians at Dalymount Park in three days’ time.

SHAMROCK ROVERS: Tomer Chencinski; Ethan Boyle, Roberto Lopes, Lee Grace, Sam Bone (David McAllister 58); Greg Bolger, Ronan Finn; Brandon Miele (Joel Coustrain 25), Graham Burke (Luke Byrne 65), Sean Kavanagh; Dan Carr.

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC: Tyson Farago; Simon Madden, Lee Desmond, Kevin Toner, Ian Bermingham; Jamie Lennon, Ryan Brennan (Graham Kelly 62), Darragh Markey (Christy Fagan 55); Conan Byrne, Jake Keegan (James Doona 46), Thomas Byrne.

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Aaron Gallagher

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