Shamrock Rovers back to winning ways after Pat’s battle

Ronan Finn netted the only goal of the game as Stephen Bradley’s side stayed four clear

Shamrock Rovers’ Ronan Finn celebrates scoring the first goal of the game during their win over St Patrick’s Athletic. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Shamrock Rovers’ Ronan Finn celebrates scoring the first goal of the game during their win over St Patrick’s Athletic. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

Shamrock Rovers 1 St Patrick’s Athletic 0

After a couple of defeats, the league leaders bounced back with a win and a clean sheet but this was not quite was as straightforward for Shamrock Rovers as it might have been. Dominant through the early stages, it took them 35 minutes to take the lead courtesy of a fine Ronan Finn goal after which, despite a couple of clear cut chances, they struggled to put St Patrick’s Athletic away.

By the break, there was more than a touch of déjà vu about it all. When the two sides last met, back in March, St Pat’s rather tamely surrendered their unbeaten start to the season. They had built some momentum again over the past week and a half with three wins earned off the back of a couple of goals a game but for most of this game, it was hard to see how.

Gary Shaw, as he always tended to when he played for Rovers, put in a shift and Mikey Drennan showed again that he will chase anything and everything for the cause but the pair were rarely given the opportunity to get at or behind the home side’s centre backs here and Alan Mannus did not come even close to actually being tested until he had to gather an Ian Bermingham header more than an hour in.

By then, the contest had developed a bit of an edge with Trevor Clarke involved, one way or another, in a good deal of the action. The referee saw nothing in wrong in a collision with Rhys McCabe that resulted in the midfielder having to be replaced but Clarke started to come into a bit of attention from opponents after it. Jamie Lennon was booked for having his boot in the vicinity of the defender’s head and after Clarke was penalised on another occasion, Jack Byrne had his name taken for arguing his team mate’s corner one too many times.

The more physical nature of things seemed to suit St Patrick’s or at least help them to disrupt the flow of opponents who had made light work of them through the best part of the first half.

With players returning and pretty much everyone settled back into their preferred position, they looked really impressive for spells before the break. Finn, in particular, was flying from early on, with the midfielder menacing every time he got on the ball.

The 31-year-old did really well to cut in from the right and tee Lee Grace up for a header the defender should have converted early on but he was central to just about everything through the opening 45 minutes bar the goal. That was the product of a really fine passing move in which Brandon Kavanagh played the starring role although Finn was still there to apply the finish.

Like Grace, Roberto Lopes should have done much better with a header and Dan Car looked set to find the bottom right corner when Ciaran Kelly entered the space between striker and goal feet first to make the block. It was one of a few very good moments for the young central defender.

Aaron Greene hit the woodwork too but inevitably, while there was only a goal in it, there was hope for Harry Kenny’s side even if they still weren’t doing an awful lot to suggest a lot of actual ambition. Their big chances finally did come eight minutes from time, though, when a quickly taken free caught the home side off guard and Dean Clarke raced into the box, cut inside and let loose with a shot that Mannus did very well to push behind. From the corner that followed, Chris Forrester tried a cheeky flick but was slightly off with his angles wrong.

Desmond got booked for a foul on Carr as Rovers threatened again and the locals were a little disgruntled to be informed there would be so much injury time but the hosts hung on and will see games against Sligo, UCD and Harps as opportunities now to recover lost momentum themselves.

SHAMROCK ROVERS: Mannus; O’Brien, Lopes, Grace, Clarke; Bolger, McEneff; B Kavanagh (Carr, 63 mins), Finn, Byrne (Watts, 87 mins); Greene (Vojic, 80 mins).

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC: Webster, Kelly, Desmond; Madden, Markey, Lennon, McCabe (Forrester, 52 mins), Bermingham (85 mins); Drennan, Shaw (Clarke, 77 mins).

Referee: B Connolly (Dublin).

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