League of Ireland round-up: Alan Mannus the hero as Shamrock Rovers leave Derry with point

Dundalk move to within four points of Premier Division leaders with gutsy win against Bohemians

Derry City 0 Shamrock Rovers 0

Alan Mannus proved the hero for Shamrock Rovers at Brandywell as he got the champions off the hook with a first half penalty save from Derry City’s Will Patching.

The Hoops keeper then saved superbly at full stretch to deny substitute Michael Duffy in the second half as the Dubliners followed up their European heroics in North Macedonia with a precious point.

Stephen Bradley’s troops needed to dig deep at the end as Ryan Graydon struck the foot of the post but Derry couldn’t find that late winner. It was Patching’s first miss from the penalty spot for Derry City who had hoped the refusal to postpone the match would work in their favour and reignite the title race.

It was a brave effort from the league’s third placed team who remain eight points adrift of Rovers.

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Patching was one of three changes from the Derry team held by Dundalk at Oriel Park last weekend, replacing Joe Thomson. Ciaran Coll came in for Shane McEleney at the back while Jamie McGonigle was preferred to James Akintunde — his first start since the 2-1 win over Finn Harps last month.

Stephen Bradley made four changes from the team which started against FC Shkupi with Dan Cleary, Aaron Greene, Richie Towell and skipper Ronan Finn all starting on the bench. In came Sean Kavanagh, Graham Burke, Sean Gannon and Neil Farrugia.

It was Farrugia who had the first attempt of a cagey opening when he won possession inside the Derry final third and his shot was deflected wide for a corner. From Dylan Watts’ corner from the left, Sean Hoare peeled off his marker and his glancing header dipped just wide of the far post on 22 minutes.

Derry got the home crowd on their feet with a lovely move which began from Connolly’s neat pass out from the back which set Ryan Graydon clear on the right and when the ball was worked to Patching, the Englishman was brought down on the edge of the penalty area.

Patching picked himself up to clip the resultant free-kick towards the back post where a Shamrock Rovers defender flicked the ball away from danger with a flailing arm.

The referee assistant signalled for a penalty and eventually match referee Paul McLaughlin pointed to the spot to give Derry a glorious chance to hit the front nine minutes before the interval.

It was Patching who took responsibility but after a stuttered run-up, the midfielder rolled the ball tamely into the hands of Alan Manus who dived low to his left.

That incident sparked the game into life and from another attack from Graydon on the right, the ball eventually fell to McEleney on the edge of the box and he volleyed narrowly over the crossbar.

It was encouraging from the home side and they finished the half with plenty of possession but couldn’t find a way through the Rovers defence.

Graham Burke showed nice feet to beat his man on the right wing before bursting towards goal but his long range strike in the fourth minute of first half stoppage time was gathered cleanly by Maher as the teams went in at the break on level terms.

Rovers hit Derry on the break when Connolly lost possession attempting to play it out from the back but when Farrugia passed inside to Kavanagh who was in space but his first time shot was saved low by Brian Maher on 53 minutes.

Derry made a double substitution just short of the hour mark with Duffy and Akintunde introduced to the fray at the expense of McGonigle and Declan Glass.

And Duffy needed less than 60 seconds to make an impact as Patching rolled a lovely ball into his path and his sidefooted effort was heading for the far corner before Mannus turned it behind superbly at full stretch.

Graydon was slipped through on goal by a neat pass from McEleney and the winger’s shot across the face of goal struck the foot of the post on 65 minutes. The rebound fell to McEleney whose shot struck the body of Hoare before Rovers cleared.

Derry sensed victory and McJannet came so close to finding the net with a glancing header from Patching’s corner kick on 73 minutes but it sailed the wrong side of the post.

Duffy was causing real problems for the Rovers defence in the final stages but Mannus was once more equal to his shot on 75 minutes.

Higgins introduced 19 year-old former Waterford striker Cian Kavanagh for the final 15 minutes in an effort to find a winner.

Patching volleyed straight into the hands of Mannus and Coll’s downward header somehow missed the target from a corner kick as Derry piled on the pressure on a jaded Rovers outfit.

Five minutes of stoppage time were signalled at the end of the second half but Derry couldn’t find a breakthrough as Rovers went home happy.

Derry City: Maher: Dummigan, Connolly, McJannet, Coll; Graydon (C. Kavanagh 72), Diallo, McEleney, Glass (Duffy 58); Patching; McGonigle (Akintunde 58); Subs Not Used — Lemoignan, Boyce, Thomson, S. McEleney, B. Kavanagh, Lafferty.

Shamrock Rovers: Mannus; Gannon, Hoare, Grace, Lyons; Farrugia (Cleary 73), O’Neill, Kavanagh (Towell 80), Watts (Greene 73);  Burke (Byrne 51); Gaffney (Emakhu 80): Pohls, Finn, Towell, Ferizaj, Tetteh.

Referee: Paul McLaughlin (Monaghan)

Bohemians 0 Dundalk 1

Dundalk moved to within four points of Premier Division leaders Shamrock Rovers with a gutsy triumph over Bohemians at Dalymount Park.

The decisive moment of the game arrived in first half stoppage-time, when Tadhg Ryan palmed the ball into his own net under pressure from Lilywhites substitute John Martin.

It was unclear if Martin had got a touch before the Bohs netminder, but his presence certainly helped Dundalk to claim the only goal of the contest.

The visitors suffered an early setback in this contest as centre-forward Patrick Hoban was forced off through injury on 12 minutes. His place in attack was taken by Martin, who almost immediately made his way into referee Adriano Reale’s notebook for a challenge on Bohs skipper Ciaran Kelly.

The search for a breakthrough goal had looked set to continue into the second half, until disaster struck for Bohs at the end of the opening period. Ryan seemed ideally placed to gather a left-wing cross from Gypsies full-back Darragh Leahy, only for Martin to force an error from his opponent.

The Bohs faithful felt Ryan was unfairly impeded by the Lilywhites attacker, but a pivotal decision did go the way of the hosts eight minutes after the resumption as Dundalk centre-half Andy Boyle was red-carded for a last-man tackle on the raiding Ethon Varian.

The Louth men coped admirably with their numerical deficiency, but were coming increasingly under the cosh as the action progressed.

Ryan Burke and Varian were both close to grabbing a Bohs equaliser, before Jonathan Afolabi (a recent recruit from Celtic) fired against the right-hand post on 87 minutes. Despite having an additional eight minutes to deny Dundalk the three points on offer, the latter’s effort was the closest they came to securing a share of the spoils.

Bohemians: Ryan; Dehl (Feely, 46 mins), Kerr, Kelly, Burke (Ogedi-Uzokwe, 83 mins); Doherty (Levingston, 46 mins), Clarke; Coote, O’Sullivan (Afolabi, 60 mins), McDaid (Burt, 72 mins); Varian.

Dundalk: Shepperd; Macari, Bone, Boyle, Leahy; Lewis, Sloggett; Bradley, Adams (McCourt, 54 mins), O’Kane (Benson, 78 mins); Hoban (Martin, 12 mins).

Referee: A Reale (Kildare)

Drogheda United 3 Shelbourne 1

Dayle Rooney’s stunning goal helped Drogheda United to a rare victory over Shelbourne and extended their cushion over the Premier Division’s bottom two teams to 14 points.

Damien Duff had talked ahead of the match about the Drogheda United players deemed surplus to the new manager’s requirements at Tolka Park in the close season, and how they might be out to prove him wrong.

The three players in question all started the game and two of them — Rooney and Ryan Brennan, twice — struck to deny Duff a fourth straight victory in all competitions.

Brennan had aired his surprise at the time, leaving no room for ambiguity, that he had no future at Shels. He had played a key role in their promotion back to the top-flight. Rooney teed up Brennan for the first half equaliser after Jack Moylan’s seventh minute opener.

That arrived when Georgie Poynton — the third ex-Shels player in the home starting XI — was caught on the ball by Moylan. He raced through and finished confidently.

Drogheda’s first goal arrived during a period in which they had wrestled control of the game from the visitors. They enjoyed greater possession and threatened accordingly.

Rooney’s goal was worthy of winning any game, on any stage domestic or otherwise. His initial shot from the edge of the area was blocked by Kameron Ledwidge but as the ball dropped back to the turf, Rooney unleashed a first-time dipping volley that flew past Brendan Clarke.

Brennan had the last laugh though, no doubt at the expense of the manager who didn’t want him. He produced his own volley of exquisite technique to secure the points against a Shels team who had dominated this fixture in recent years.

Drogheda United: McCabe; Poynton, Quinn, Cowan (Massey, 87), Weir; Deegan; Grimes (Nugent, 73), Markey, Brennan, Rooney; Williams.

Shelbourne: Clarke; Griffin, Byrne, Ledwidge; Farrell, Molloy, Lunney (McManus, 59), Kane (Giurgi, 69); Moylan (Carr, 69); Boyd (Wilson, 17), Smith.

Referee: John McLoughlin

UCD 2 Finn Harps 1

Teenager Evan Caffrey scored a goal of this season contender as 10-man UCD came from behind to give themselves a massive lift in every sense with victory in this rousing relegation six-pointer at the UCD Bowl.

Only their third win of the campaign sees UCD leapfrog a point above Harps in their intriguing battle at the foot of the table. It’s now two wins and a draw for Andy Myler’s students over the Donegal side. They will meet for the last time at Finn Park in the penultimate game of the season in late October.

Unchanged from their impressive win over Drogheda United last week, Harps saw plenty of the ball early on and were ahead on 16 minutes.

UCD midfielder Dara Keane was adjudged to have pulled down Ethan Boyle as they went for a Regan Donelon free kick in the box.

Filip Mihaljevic sent Lorcan Healy the wrong way for what is the ninth penalty UCD have conceded this season.

Redemption was prompt for Keane as he was instrumental in UCD’s equaliser within two minutes.

The midfielder’s drilled shot cannoned back off a post. Donal Higgins was alert to the loose ball to tap it into the net.

Despite finishing the first half well, it looked to be unravelling for College within six minutes of the second.

They first lost their influential skipper Jack Keaney to injury before Keane, booked for giving away the penalty, received a second yellow card for a foul on Conor Tourish and was sent off.

But it merely served to galvanise them as they took the lead for what proved the winner with an absolutely sublime goal on 58 minutes.

Dylan Duffy and Higgins were involved in setting up 19-year-old Caffrey who hit a stunning drive from 30 yards which arrowed into the top corner giving McKeown no chance.

UCD: Healy; Gallagher, Keaney (Dunne, 50), Todd, Osam; Higgins (Brennan, 71), Caffrey; Duffy, Keane, Dignam (Ryan, 88); Lonergan.

Finn Harps: McKeown; Boylan, Tourish (Carillo, 57; Duncan, 83)), Slevin; Boyle, N’Zeyi, Connolly, Donelan (Rainey, 83); McNamee (Jones, 63); McWoods, Mihaljevic.

Referee: Derek Tomney (Dublin)