Shamrock Rovers start with a win against St Pat’s

Danny North goal the difference in a scrappy encounter in Tallaght

Shamrock Rovers 1 St Patrick’s Athletic 0

If Ireland ever gets to stage a winter World Cup TV manufacturers might do worse than to settle on giant built in fans as the gimmick to drive sales of new sets. Here, it would have given viewers watching from the comfort of their own homes some small sense of why what they were watching was so completely chaotic for a wind like the one experienced in Tallaght is, it turns out, every bit as difficult to play in as that much mentioned 50 degree Middle East heat.

The two sides here took it in turns to suggest they might make some sort of stab at it with the visitors starting brightly enough before Rovers took the lead with a well finished goal from Danny North. For the most part, though, it was a night on which a great deal was either misplaced or misjudged and it was certainly no way anyone would have wanted to raise the curtain on the new campaign even if the locals' will be happy enough to have taken all three points.

There was even the occasional hint of comedy as when Conor Kenna failed to prevent the ball bouncing deep in his own area and then became embroiled in what briefly resembled a slapstick routine during which he and the ball resembled magnets repelling each other. That one gave the St Patrick's fans something to jeer but such is the scale of these two rivals' ongoing player exchange programme that almost everything, North's goal included, seemed to take on added significance to those watching from the stands.

READ MORE

The striker managed nearly a goal every other game during his season and a half in Inchicore and wasn't too far off that either at Sligo where injuries still hampered him to the point where his signing here can be regarded as something of a gamble by Pat Fenlon.

He started to repay the outlay after just 18 minutes of this, his league debut for Rovers, with Brendan Clarke's kick-out into the wind volleyed towards the left hand side of the box by Max Blanchard and the striker doing well to push the ball on with his chest before lifting it left footed over the goalkeeper and inside the far post.

Had Pat Cregg followed strong runs with better placed shots, the home side might have been at least one more up for the break but as it was they were comfortable enough for the best part of the night.

The closest their opponents came to scoring was a couple of chances by Ciaran Kilduff, the first a shot sent wide when he tried, under pressure, to beat Craig Hyland at his near post, the second a close range header that drew a decent save but also an offside flag.

Quite how his partnership with Christy Fagan will fare when things settle down remains to be seen butt Liam Buckley will, like everyone else around the club, be hoping for a bit more than this. The newcomer did, however, show occasional glimpses of what he might bring, including a determined run towards the area that yielded a free on the edge of the area.

Another, for the home side this time, was blocked after the opposing wall stole a yard or more and it suddenly seemed utterly ridiculous that the league here hasn’t done its bit to stamp out the practice by equipping referees here with cans of foam.

Fortunately, Dave McKeon had at least brought come with cards and he had to dish out a few in a game that had a derby-style edge to it at times. The niggling tussle between Chris Forrester and Sean O'Connor in which the St Patrick's player seemed intent on winding up the opposing winger was actually one of the night's more entertaining aspects.

There were no winners really in that one but ultimately Rovers did just about enough to take the points even if they didn’t exactly blow the visitors away.

Shamrock Rovers: Hyland; Madden, Kenna, Webster, Byrne; Cregg, Blanchard; O’Connor, McCabe, Waters (Drennan, 89 mins); North.

St Patrick’s Athletic: Clarke; McCormack, McGuinness (Desmond, 76 mins), Browne, Bermingham; Byrne (McGrath, 71 mins), Chambers, Bolger, Forrester (Markey, 81 mins); Fagan, Kilduff.

Referee: D McKeon (Dublin).

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is an Assistant News Editor at The Irish Times