Shamrock Rovers boss Bradley wants a packed Tallaght for visit of Finn Harps

Victory over Longford Town leaves Hoops on verge of a 19th league title

Shamrock Rovers players celebrate after Graham Burke’s goal during the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division match against Longford Town at  Bishopsgate. Photograph: Tommy Grealy/Inpho

Shamrock Rovers players celebrate after Graham Burke’s goal during the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division match against Longford Town at Bishopsgate. Photograph: Tommy Grealy/Inpho

 

Stephen Bradley wants a carnival atmosphere at a packed Tallaght Stadium on Friday night against Finn Harps so his Shamrock Rovers can clinch the league title in style.

Graham Burke’s goal at Bishopsgate on Saturday night was enough to beat relegated Longford Town 1-0 in difficult conditions of driving wind and rain to move the Hoops 16 points clear at the top of the Premier Division table.

Rovers were confirmed champions last year without kicking a ball on the night in question, courtesy of Finn Harps winning 2-0 at Bohemians.

A similar scenario could transpire this year should St Patrick’s Athletic lose at home to Dundalk on Monday night.

But Bradley’s preference is for his side to secure back-to-back titles – extending their record to 19 in total – in front of a heaving home crowd when Harps visit Dublin 24.

“It will be a brilliant occasion to have all our fans and families there on Friday,” said Rovers’ head coach.

“We still have to go and do it, but it will be a brilliant occasion to have them all there and give us the opportunity to win it in front of them.

“Hopefully, we can sell Tallaght out now that we are back with no restrictions which would be brilliant. Get seven, seven-and-a-half thousand in there and let us do our business on the pitch to make it a really nice occasion.”

Though Rovers owned the ball in the first half, it was Longford who should have been ahead at the break with chances falling to Rob Manley, Aodh Dervin and Aaron Robinson.

Rovers continued to dominate possession into the second half, but didn’t spark until a triple substitution on 62 minutes when Dylan Watts, Danny Mandroiu and Burke were introduced.

Three minutes later they got their winner with Burke beginning and finishing the move.

The Rovers No 10 sent Rory Gaffney clear on the right to cross for Mandroiu. And though his close-range shot was brilliantly parried by Lee Steacy, Burke followed up to shoot to the net.

Despite playing virtually the whole match with 10 men, Finn Harps staged a dramatic late fight back to earn a 2-2 draw with Sligo Rovers in Ballybofey on Saturday.

It looked ominous for the home side as early as the fourth minute when defender Kosovar Sadiki was shown a straight red card for a foul on Johnny Kenny.

Kenny should then have put Sligo ahead five minutes before the break from a penalty awarded for a foul on him by Mark Coyle. Harps got a reprieve when the 18-year-old’s poor spot kick was saved by the legs of Mark McGinley.

Kenny redeemed himself two minutes into the second half when giving Sligo the lead from Garry Buckley’s ball over the top. Niall Morahan doubled that on 56 minutes with a fine turn and volley.

As ever, Harps battled away and got a goal back on 86 minutes when Seán Boyd headed home Jordan Mustoe’s cross.

They then snatched their unlikely equaliser four minutes into added time, Ethan Boyle showing terrific composure to set up Karl O’Sullivan to rifle his shot into the far corner of the net.

Fourth-placed Derry City failed to avail of Sligo’s slip up as they lost 1-0 at Drogheda United on Sunday afternoon.

Killian Phillips got the only goal of the game at Head in the Game Park on 38 minutes. Mark Doyle’s header from a Darragh Markey corner came back off a post and Phillips reacted quickest to the rebound to head the loose ball to the net for his second goal of the season.

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