Airtricity League Wrap: Rovers close gap at the top to a single point

Damien Duff-less Shelbourne secure first home win; Superb Whelan rescues UCD

Shamrock Rovers 3 Finn Harps 1

Shamrock Rovers cut the gap to league leaders Derry City to a point as they made short work of Finn Harps at Tallaght Stadium.

Roberto Lopes’ first goal of the season and a Danny Mandroiu double, taking his tally to five, saw Rovers capitalise on Derry’s draw with Bohemians.

The scoreline didn’t tell the entire story as a string of stunning saves from Harps ‘keeper Mark McGinley averted what could easily have become a cricket score.

The ‘keeper pulled off top-class saves to deny Richie Towell, Aidomo Emakhu and Aaron Greene after the break, while Emakhu also hit the post following a mazy run.

Lopes opened the scoring on 17 minutes as he fired home the loose ball after Rory Gaffney had beaten McGinley to a loose ball.

They had an immediate chance to hit back as Alan Mannus denied Yoyo Mahdy, and it proved costly as Mandroiu stopped to chest home a Sean Gannon cross.

It was three before the hour as Jack Byrne sent in an inch-perfect arcing cross from deep on the right and Mandroiu’s diving header was too strong for McGinley.

Harps deservedly pulled one back before the break as Conor Tourish sent a bullet header past Mannus but it would be their last scoring chance.

Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Sean Gannon, Roberto Lopes, Lee Grace (Seán Hoare); Andy Lyons (Barry Cotter 60), Richie Towell, Chris McCann, Sean Kavanagh; Jack Byrne (Graham Burke 46), Danny Mandroiu (Aaron Greene 60), Rory Gaffney (Aidomo Emakhu 46).

Finn Harps: Mark McGinley; Erol Erdal Alkan, Conor Tourish, Rob Slevin, Regan Donelon; Ethan Boyle; Ryan Rainey, Jesse Devers, Barry McNamee (Luke Rudden 71); Yoyo Mahdy (Nathan Logue 83), Filip Mihajlovic (Sean McDermott 89).

Referee: Tom Owen (Wales).

Derry City 1 Bohemian FC 1

A fortunate penalty kick spared Derry City’s blushes at the Brandywell after Bohemians having threatened to stun the host support.

With Shamrock Rovers again reducing Derry’s lead to just one point following their defeat of Finn Harps, Derry will now focus on another home fixture on Monday night against St. Pat’s.

Derry took time to settle and it was Bohemians who brought the game to life when breaking the deadlock in the 14th minute.

Brandon Kavanagh failed to control a loose ball with Derry on the attack and the alert Burt gained possession before scampering forward. As two defenders appeared to step back, Burt flicked the ball forward into the path of the advancing Promise Omochere and the winger finished with aplomb.

Derry fought back to restore equality in the 34th minute in particularly fortunate circumstances.

Kavanagh and Patrick McEleney combined with a neat combination, the latter receiving the ball inside the 18-yard box before Conor Levingston appeared to shoulder the Derry midfielder, McEleney falling to the ground and match referee Adriano Reale, immediately pointed to the spot.

Up stepped Will Patching and he sent James Talbot the wrong way, tucking the ball into the corner of the net much to the delight of the attendance.

Four minutes from the break, Derry really should have moved into the driving seat.

A long ball from the back was superbly controlled by Jamie McGonigle but the striker opted for power when blasting the ball high over the crossbar.

Derry approached the second half in a different frame of mind and began to dominate possession.

In the 50th minute Patrick McEleney threatened Talbot with a superb curling shot from 25 yards, but the ball failed to hit the target.

With the home side enjoying the lion’s share of possession, McGonigle broke again on the left flank in the 73rd minute but his tame shot was easily dealt with by Talbot.

Bohemians were presented with a superb chance to steal the points in the 75th minute when a deep cross from full-back, Tyreke Wilson found the head of Omochere but his effort was saved by Maher from close range.

In the end Bohs sub Kris Twardek could have nicked it, but he failed to force the ball home following a deep cross from the left with the last kick of the match.

Derry City: Maher; S. McEleney, Toal, McJannet (Thomson, 75); Dummigan, P. McEleney, Kavanagh (McLaughlin, 86); Patching Smith 6 (Akintunde, 64), McGonigle.

Bohemian FC: Talbot ; Packham (Murphy, 64), Doherty , Kelly , Wilson ; Coote (Finnerty, 91), Devoy, Levingston, Omochere; Burt (Twardek, 74); Ogedi-Uzokwe.

Referee: A. Reale (Dublin)

Shelbourne 2 Sligo Rovers 1

Jack Moylan and Sean Boyd bagged first-half goals at a rain-soaked Tolka Park last night as Shelbourne defeated Sligo Rovers to secure their maiden home win of this year’s SSE Airtricity League Premier Division.

Reds boss Damien Duff was absent from the dugout owing to a touchline ban, but the former Republic of Ireland winger will have been left delighted with both the result and performance produced by his side.

Following hesitancy from Sligo coming out of defence at the end of the first quarter, Moylan picked up possession on the edge of the penalty area and unleashed a superb curling strike to the top right-hand corner of the net.

Shels grew in stature as a consequence and a similar finish from the towering Boyd on 43 minutes ensured they were two goals in front at the break.

All the signs were pointing towards Sligo suffering a second reversal at the hands of the north Dubliners in the current campaign, but they received a lifeline in the shape of a magnificent goal from left-back Patrick Kirk in the 64th-minute.

This ramped up the pressure on Shels, but with Adam McDonnell heading marginally wide in the dying seconds, the visitors left the Drumcondra venue empty-handed.

Shelbourne: Clarke; O'Driscoll, Byrne, Griffin; Wilson, Lunney (Dervin, 62), Coyle, Kane; Farrell, Boyd, Moylan (Carr, 88).

Sligo Rovers: McGinty; Banks (Horgan, 77), Pijnaker, McCourt, Kirk; Bolger (Keogh, 77), Cawley; Fitzgerald (Mata, 46), McDonnell, Byrne (Hamilton, 46); Keena (Heaney, 77).

Referee: B Connolly (Dublin).

Drogheda United 0 St Patrick’s Athletic 4

Tim Clancy enjoyed a satisfying return to Drogheda as St Patrick’s Athletic served up the perfect riposte to their home hammering last week with a four-goal victory of their own at Head In The Game Park.

The visitors struck twice in the first half to establish a commanding lead against Drogheda, where Tim Clancy enjoyed a four-year spell in charge before departing for Inchicore.

16-year-old Sam Curtis made his first start for the club but it was another teenager the travelling supporters were toasting early on. Billy King’s dinked cross from the touchline was met at the back post by 19-year-old Darragh Burns. His header found the top corner, leaving goalkeeper Sam Long helpless.

United grew into the game, albeit briefly and with little to show for their efforts in an attacking sense. Billy King saw a shot saved as Pat’s threatened a second.

That duly arrived when Eoin Doyle raced onto Ben McCormack’s defence-splitting pass. The assistant referee didn’t raise his flag and Doyle raced into the area before finding the bottom corner.

A drone interrupted play in the second half on three separate occasions but Pat’s never ceded control. King scored himself after some exquisite set up play from Chris Forrester. Kyle Robinson was on the pitch mere seconds before he notched the fourth.

Drogheda: Long; Poynton (Weir, 46), Quinn, Roughan, Massey; Deegan, Heeney (Clarke, 46), Brennan (Nugent, 76); Grimes (Arong, 85), Rooney; Lyons (Williams, 26).

St Patrick's Athletic: Anang; Curtis, Redmond, Grivosti (Bermingham, 70), Breslin; Forrester (McClelland, 76), O'Reilly; Burns, McCormack (Robinson, 85), King (M Doyle, 70); E Doyle (Owolabi, 76).

Referee: John McLoughlin

UCD 2 Dundalk 2

An inspired Colm Whelan hit a brace as bottom-of-the-table UCD battled back from two goals down against 10-man Dundalk to earn a fully deserved share of the spoils in a thriller at the UCD Bowl.

Dundalk survived a scare as early as three minutes when Darragh Leahy had to clear off their line from Whelan’s chip after keeper Nathan Shepperd’s fumble.

Dundalk hit back with Patrick Hoban twice threatening before they took the lead on 18 minutes from a corner he had won.

And though Keith Ward’s delivery was headed away, it dropped for Paul Doyle - who scored twice in UCD’s promotion play-off games last year - to drill a deflected shot to the net.

UCD were close to an equaliser when skipper Jack Keaney flashed a header just over from Liam Kerrigan’s free kick before Dundalk were reduced to 10 men in first half stoppage time when experienced defender Andy Boyle, who began his career at UCD, saw a straight red card for a lunging challenge on Dara Keane.

Though UCD began the second half on the front foot, they found themselves further behind on 54 minutes.

Daniel Kelly’s pace got him in behind 18-year-old Yoro who tripped the Dundalk winger.

Hoban sent teenage keeper Kian Moore the wrong way from the resulting penalty.

College hit back on the hour with a sublime finish from Whelan who side footed home Mark Dignam’s pacy cross at the near post.

Evan Caffrey then won a 76th minute penalty which Whelan confidently dispatched.

UCD: Moore; Gallagher, Yoro (Ryan, 56), Todd, Osam; Keane (Verdon, h-t), Keaney; Kerrigan, Caffrey, Dignam (Nolan, 70); Whelan.

Dundalk: Shepperd; Macari, Gartland, Boyle, Leahy; Doyle (Martin, 90+2), Sloggett; Adams (Bone, h-t), Ward (Benson, h-t), Kelly (Bradley, 73); Hoban (McMillan, 73).

Referee: Damien MacGraith (Mayo).

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