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Dublin: 10 °C Wednesday 16 October, 2019
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North nets against his former club to give Shamrock Rovers a winning start

The Englishman’s first-half goal left St Pat’s empty-handed on the opening night.

Danny North celebrates after scoring the game's only goal.
Danny North celebrates after scoring the game's only goal.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Shamrock Rovers 1

St Patrick’s Athletic 0

DANNY NORTH CONDEMNED St Patrick’s Athletic to defeat at Tallaght Stadium tonight in the opening round of SSE Airtricity League Premier Division fixtures.

North’s well-taken first-half goal was all that separated Shamrock Rovers from their Dublin rivals, as the Englishman marked his debut for the Hoops with a crucial strike against the club for whom he scored 22 goals between 2010 and ’11.

There was an incredibly strong breeze blowing up the field in Tallaght and Rovers had it behind them in the first half, which prompted several long-range efforts that tested Pat’s goalkeeper Brendan Clarke.

Rovers trio Pat Cregg, Sean O’Connor and Gary McCabe all tried their luck from distance in the opening 45 minutes, but the visitors had their fair share of chances too.

Conan Byrne forced a save from Craig Hyland with a 10th-minute header and Ciarán Kilduff went very close six minutes later, but the former Rovers striker fired the ball into the side-netting from a tricky angle.

The breakthrough for the hosts came in the 17th minute. Max Blanchard played a ball over the top of the Pat’s defence and Danny North broke free to flick a neat half-volley with his left foot into the top corner of Clarke’s net.

Conan Byrne was off target with a free-kick for St Pat’s just after the half-hour mark, so Pat Fenlon’s side took a 1-0 lead in at the break.

With the wind at their backs, Pat’s would have fancied their chances in the second half, although such was the strength of the wind that it was difficult to determine if it was any advantage at all.

Christy Fagan with Max Blanchard Christy Fagan and Max Blanchard battle for possession. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Liam Buckley’s men had the better of the second period but goalscoring opportunities were few and far between. Ian Bermingham and Ciarán Kilduff had Rovers goalkeeper Craig Hyland under pressure in the 50th minute but a goalmouth scramble resulted in a free-out for the Hoops.

With 10 minutes remaining, Rovers captain Conor Kenna almost headed a Pat’s corner into his own net. Chris Forrester was on the end of the corner that followed but steered it off target with his shoulder in rather unorthodox fashion.

The golden opportunity for Pat’s to equalise came in the fourth minute of added time, but Kilduff’s header was brilliantly touched on to the crossbar by Hyland and Rovers survived to take all three points.

“It was nice to get off the mark with a debut goal… in a Dublin derby as well against one of my old teams,” North told RTE’s Tony O’Donoghue after the game.

“The weather conditions were horrendous but we managed to grind it out and keep a clean sheet for a great start to the season.”

SHAMROCK ROVERS: Craig Hyland; Simon Madden, Conor Kenna, David Webster, Luke Byrne; Pat Cregg, Max Blanchard, Gary McCabe; Kieran Waters (Mikey Drennan, 89), Danny North, Sean O’Connor.

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC: Brendan Clarke; Conor McCormack, Ian Bermingham (Lee Desmond, 76), Kenny Browne, Jason McGuinness; Greg Bolger, James Chambers, Chris Forrester (Darragh Markey, 81); Conan Byrne (Jamie McGrath, 71), Ciarán Kilduff, Christy Fagan.

Man-of-the-match: Danny North.

Referee: Dave McKeown.

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Paul Dollery

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