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Dublin: 19 °C Monday 22 July, 2019
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Classy Sean Kavanagh free kick helps Shamrock Rovers earn Dublin derby win

Stephen Bradley’s side were too good for St Pat’s tonight.

Shamrock Rovers players celebrate a goal.
Shamrock Rovers players celebrate a goal.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

St Patrick’s Athletic 0

Shamrock Rovers 2

Paul Fennessy reports from Richmond Park

A WELL-STRUCK Sean Kavanagh free kick helped Shamrock Rovers beat St Pat’s 2-0 on a warm evening at Richmond Park in tonight’s Dublin derby.

A goal from the former Fulham player, in addition to Greg Bolger’s opener, sealed a much-needed win for the second-place side, who have endured some disappointing results of late.

The victory was deserved, with Pat’s working hard but lacking the creativity necessary to open up Rovers, who sat back and played in a relatively conservative manner after Kavanagh’s second.

The Hoops were unchanged from Friday’s 1-0 defeat by Dundalk, with recent signings Neil Farrugia, Gary O’Neill and Graham Cummins all unavailable, while Aaron McEneff was also absent.

For Pat’s, there was just one change from their 1-0 win over UCD. Conor Clifford returned to the starting XI, with Ciaran Kelly unavailable through injury, while Dave Webster was also ruled out with an ankle problem.

Going into the game, the Hoops were looking to curb a run that saw them pick up just one point from their previous three fixtures, which left them trailing leaders Dundalk by eight points.

Pat’s, by contrast, were hoping to build on encouraging form that saw them win their last two games on the bounce to move to fifth in the table, with only goal difference separating the Saints and Derry in fourth.

The opening stages were scrappy with chances few and far between. Both sides applied a high press with the Pat’s defence looking particularly uncomfortable in these instances. Lee Desmond, at one stage, had to hammer the ball straight out of play under pressure from the Rovers attackers.

Ian Bermingham and Greg Bolger St. Pats' Ian Bermingham and Greg Bolger of Rovers. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

In the 20th minute, Stephen Bradley’s men tested Brendan Clarke for the first time, with the goalkeeper needing to parry Trevor Clarke’s powerful low edge-of-the-area shot behind for a corner.

Moments later, Chris Forrester and Mikey Drennan linked up well down the other end, but the latter’s finish from a tight angle failed to trouble Alan Mannus unduly.

The game was becoming more open now and Roberto Lopes next went close, as his header from Jack Byrne’s corner sailed narrowly wide.

The visitors continued to apply pressure, and Byrne’s trademark curled effort from the edge of the area could not find the target just before play was stopped at the first half’s midway point for a Uefa-regulated water break.

Moments later, a glorious long ball from Ronan Finn narrowly eluded the onrushing Kavanagh, as Rovers continued to look the more likely to open the scoring.

Just before the half hour mark, Pat’s were dealt a blow. Clifford pulled up and was forced to hobble off the field, with Rhys McCabe taking the former Chelsea trainee’s place on the pitch.

The visitors continued to dominate thereafter. Clarke’s dangerous cross was sliced behind uncertainly by Kevin Toner for a corner. From the ensuing set piece, Bolger’s drilled effort from the edge of the area required a last-ditch block from Jamie Lennon, with some within the Rovers ranks claiming the Pat’s player stopped the ball with his hand.

Eight minutes before the break, a rare Pat’s attack saw the ball break to McCabe on the edge of the area, and the former Rangers youngster fired a powerful low shot just wide.

Rovers were looking frustrated with the half drawing to a close, but out of nothing, secured a breakthrough in stoppage time.

Finding himself with the ball out wide, Byrne played an incisive, perfectly timed pass inside the area to the onrushing Bolger, and the midfielder’s first touch took it away from the defender before he finished clinically into the corner of the net.

Kevin Toner and Dan Carr St. Pats' Kevin Toner and Dan Carr of Rovers. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Both sides made changes in attack at the break, with Aaron Greene replacing Dan Carr for Rovers, and Dean Clarke coming on in place of Jake Walker for the hosts.

And it was the visitors who struck again five minutes into the second half. After Rovers won a free kick on the edge of the area, Kavanagh stepped up and curled an unstoppable low effort into the corner of the net.

Pat’s badly needed a response and they started to show more in attack. A Toner cross found Cian Coleman, but the midfielder couldn’t steer his header on target.

Moments later, Kavanagh unwittingly found Drennan with a scuffed clearance, but the attacker’s audacious bicycle kick was well off target.

Rovers were sitting back now and soaking up pressure, with Pat’s struggling to pose any real threat, as their final substitution saw James Doona replace the ineffectual Forrester.

Pat’s continued to probe as the game entered its final 20 minutes and Joey O’Brien needed to be alert in order to block Doona’s goalbound effort, after the Rovers backline had initially dealt unconvincingly with a lofted cross.

In the dying minutes, Toner’s volley from a corner was also blocked on the line, but that was as close as it got for the home side on a frustrating night for the Richmond Park faithful, as Rovers saw out the match and in the process stayed within eight points of table toppers Dundalk.

St Patrick’s Athletic: 26. Brendan Clarke 4. Kevin Toner 5. Lee Desmond 3. Ian Bermingham 17. Simon Madden 6. Conor Clifford (McCabe 28) 23. Cian Coleman 20. Jamie Lennon 9. Mikey Drennan 19. Chris Forrester (Doona 66) 31. Jake Walker (Clarke 46)

Subs: 1. Barry Murphy 11. James Doona 18. Dean Clarke 24. Rhys McCabe 30. Paul Cleary 7. Gary Shaw 8. Darragh Markey

Shamrock Rovers: 1. Alan Mannus 28. Joey O’Brien  4. Roberto Lopes 5. Lee Grace 6. Greg Bolger 7. Dylan Watts (Oluwa 85) 8. Ronan Finn (Kavanagh 76) 9. Dan Carr (Greene 46) 20. Trevor Clarke 11. Sean Kavanagh 29. Jack Byrne.

Subs: 25. Leon Pohls 2. Ethan Boyle 15. James Furlong 18. Sean Boyd 22. Aaron Greene 26. Thomas Oluwa 27. Brandon Kavanagh 

Referee: Graham Kelly

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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