League of Ireland wrap: Shamrock Rovers maintain 10 point lead

Derry City beat Bohemians at Dalymount Park, St Pat’s and Dundalk both enjoy 3-0 wins

Finn Harps 0 Shamrock Rovers 1

A Rory Gaffney strike on the stroke of half-time turned out to be the winner as Shamrock Rovers saw off the gutsy challenge of Finn Harps at Finn Park to maintain their 10 point advantage at the summit on a night that saw the top four all collecting three points.

For Rovers, who face Maltese side Hibernian FC in the Champions League first qualifying round on Tuesday, this was certainly the result that manager Stephen Bradley wanted. The Hoops dominated possession early on and Harps netminder Gavin Mulreany, again getting the nod between the sticks ahead of Mark Anthony McGinley, acquitted himself well as he punched a few aerial balls clear with conviction and smothered a number of shots and crosses.

The home side had a scare on 27 minutes when Mulreany got stranded off his line, but Dylan Watts’ lob towards the unguarded goal landed on the roof of the net. On a rare foray into Rovers territory, it was Harps who nearly stole the lead when captain Barry McNamee found himself in a bit of space and forced Alan Mannus into diving to save.

It looked as if Harps were going to see it out until half-time, but just as the stadium announcer declared an additional minute of stoppage time, Rovers got the lead that they deserved. Almost out of nothing, Gaffney, 25 yards out, let fly with a low drive into the bottom right corner for his sixth goal of the campaign.

Mulreany did well to tip over a Watts strike as the second half began in a similar vein with Rovers dictating matters. Rovers introduced Richie Towell in the 72nd minute and he was quickly into action, blasting across the face of goal while substitute Aldomo Emakhu had a late chance saved.

Harps showed their customary never-say-die attitude and finished strongly, but Rovers held on for their 16th win of the season.

Finn Harps: Mulreany; Carrillo (Mahdy, 86 mins), N’zeyi, Tourish, Slevin, Donelon (Duncan, 76 mins); Mihaljevic, Hery, Connolly, McNamee (Timlin, 86 mins); McWoods (Rudden, 65 mins)

Shamrock Rovers: Mannus; Gannon (Hoare, 85 mins), Lopes, Grace; Finn (Cotter, 76 mins), McCann (Towell, 72 mins), O’Neill, Kavanagh; Watts, Gaffney, Greene (Emakhu, 76 mins).

Referee: O Moran (Dublin).

Bohemians 2 Derry City 3

Derry City warmed up for the visit of Riga FC to Brandywell in the Europa Conference League on Thursday with a hard earned victory over Bohemians at Dalymount Park.

The Phibsborough venue has been a happy haunting ground for City boss Ruaidhri Higgins who has yet to lose a match against his Bohemians counterpart Keith Long since taking charge of the Brandywell club in April 2021.

They were made to work for three valuable points on this occasion with Dawson Devoy’s own goal providing decisive in the end. Joe Thomson gave the visitors the lead with a well executed lobbed effort from outside the box when Bohemians goalkeeper Tadgh Ryan raced off his line three minutes before the interval.

Ali Coote struck early in the second half to get Bohs back in the game but Derry were back in front 60 seconds later thanks to Matty Smith’s volley at the back post. Will Patching’s free-kick was turned into his own net by Devoy to extend Derry’s lead with 15 minutes to go but it was far from over.

The midfielder made amends 10 minutes later with a stunning strike from distance to set up a nervy finish. Twice the Derry defence cleared off the line in a frantic finale but the Candystripes held on for a valuable win as they picked up a bit of form going into their big midweek European tie against the Latvians.

Bohemians: Ryan; Murphy (Kelly 81), Feely, Doherty, Flores; Twardek, Coote, Devoy, Levingston (Wilson 71), Twardek (Mullins 65), Omochere, Ogedi-Uzokwe; Subs Not Used — Folan, Wilson, Burt, O’Brien, Doran, Byrne, McManus.

Derry City: Maher; Porter (Kavanagh 62), McJannett, McEleney, Coll; Smith (E. McLaughlin 90), Thomson, McEleney, Lafferty (Toal 61); Patching; Akintunde (McGonigle 71); Subs Not Used — Gartside, McLaughlin, Malone, O. McLoughlin, McCallion, Mullan.

Referee: Paul McLaughlin.

St Patrick’s Athletic 3 Drogheda United 0

Goals from Billy King, Eoin and Mark Doyle got St Patrick’s Athletic back on track with a first win in three games in the Richmond Park drizzle.

Dominant from the kick off, the only surprise at the interval was that the home side weren’t more than one goal to the good. The woodwork and frantic defending deprived Tim Clancy’s side of a 12th minute lead, with Ben McCormack crashing a header off the post before Jack Scott’s follow up was deflected out for a corner.

Drogheda escaped conceding a penalty on 25 minutes, their skipper Dane Massey’s raised arm clearly made contact with the ball from Eoin Doyle’s header. Colin McCabe then made good stops to deprive Eoin Doyle and Adam O’Reilly before the breakthrough finally arrived on 41 minutes. Scott’s deep cross from the right looked to be going out of play but skipper Chris Forrester got there to pull it back from the end line for King to arrive and find the net with a first time volley for his fourth goal of the season.

Drogheda were better from the restart, but for all their endeavour struggled to break down the home defence as St Pat’s played their way back into the game.

Tunde Owolabi was sprang from the bench and was pivotal in all but sealing the win with St Pat’s second goal on 86 minutes, dispossessing Massey to cross and give Eoin Doyle the easiest of his nine goals this season.

Mark Doyle added the gloss a minute into added time with a sublime back post volley from Kyle Robinson’s deep cross.

St Patrick’s Athletic: Anang; Scott, Redmond, Grivosti, Breslin; O’Reilly, Forrester (Robinson, 90); King (McClelland, 85), McCormack (Owolabi, 70), M. Doyle; E. Doyle.

Drogheda United: McCabe; Heeney (Lyons, 77), Quinn, Weir, Massey; Deegan, Nugent (Clarke, 66); Foley (Rooney, 62), Brennan, Markey; Williams.

Referee: Ray Matthews (Midlands).

Dundalk 3 UCD 0

Dundalk found their shooting boots in the second half as goals from former students David McMillan and Keith Ward either side of an Evan Caffrey own goal ensured victory over UCD at Oriel Park.

Stephen O’Donnell’s side struggled to turn possession into chances in the opening half although Cian Moore was called into action on two occasions to deny Paul Doyle and Greg Sloggett. A half-time tactical switch which saw Daniel Kelly and Joe Adams swap wings paid dividends for the home side though as they both played a role in McMillan’s 51st minute opener.

Kelly broke down the right with his cross knocked down by the head of Adams to McMillan, who rifled home his first league goal since last July. Dundalk then doubled their lead on 56 minutes. Mark Connolly headed against the crossbar from Robbie Benson’s corner with the loose ball coming off Caffrey and into his own net. The ball looked like it had crossed the line before Adams added to it.

The home side would add a third in stoppage time when Ward finished off a neat cross from fellow substitute John Martin for his eighth goal for Dundalk and the first of his third spell with the club.

Dundalk: Shepperd; Macari, Connolly, Boyle, Leahy; Sloggett, Doyle (Bone 78); Adams, Benson (O’Kane 63), Kelly (Ward 62); McMillan (Martin 78).

UCD: Moore; Gallagher (Dunne 80), Keaney, Todd, Osam; Keane (Ryan 80), Verdon (Higgins 55); Duffy, Caffrey, Dignam (Norris 66); Lonergan (Nolan 66).

Referee: Rob Harvey (Dublin).