Scored: 40'- Padraig Amond 40'
Neither side created much in terms of goal scoring opportunities in the opening stages, Mark Quigley looped a header goal wards though it put Barry Murphy under no real pressure in the Rover’s goal and at the other end Brendan Clarke had to be alert to snuff out the threat of The Hoop’s front line following a Stephen Bradley corner.
Rovers then began to enjoy some good possession and Clarke had to race off his clear to clear a through ball with Tadhg Purcell bearing down on goal on 18 minutes and just two minutes later Darragh Maguire headed just over when well placed following another measured Bradley cross.
Clarke had to be on his toes again on 21 minutes when Padraig Amond broke clear but his powerful near post shot was turned wide for another Rover’s corner.
This, however, only served to spring Pat’s in to life themselves and Gareth O’ Connor was unlucky to see his shot drift narrowly wide after some good build up play that involved Stuart Byrne and the lively Ryan Guy.
The game became very flat thereafter and seemed to be crawling towards half time until the pacey Amond found himself able to drift between Haverty and Stevens and when Clarke stumbled in his attempts to close the striker down he was left with the fairly routine task of to stroking his shot into the Pat's net in front of the vocal Rover's support at the Shed end on 40 minutes.
And when the half-time whistle was blown CEO Richard Sadlier headed for refreshment looking anything but impressed with the one nil score line and there was a tangible sense of ‘here we go again’ amongst the Inchicore faithful.
The second half began with no changes to either side and no real atmosphere in the ground with most eyes instead focusing on a more animated than usual Jeff Kenna, so desperate was he to put things right.
On 52 minutes his players nearly did it for him but Guy’s composure deserted him at the last minute and he placed a very presentable shot hopelessly wide.
The home side were beginning to dominate and looked certain to equalise when Stephen Maher broke down the right and cut the ball back to Damien Lynch from the by-line but his low shot was blocked en route to goal.
The game then, despite being keenly contested, retreated back into its shell somewhat as it went for long periods without anything of note taking place.
Kenna introduced Kyle Moran on 74 minutes in place of Darragh Ryan and Michael O’Neill responded by bringing on top-scorer Gary Twigg for Tadhg Purcell a minute later.
Alan Cawley was also brought on in the 81st minute in an attempt to unlock the Rover’s defence and immediately found Quigley with a clever touch on the edge of the away side’s penalty area but the out-of-sorts striker’s touch was far too heavy and the move broke down to dismay of the home support with just minutes to play.
There were two minutes of injury time but despite a spirited attempt from Kenna’s team, they could not force a breakthrough and O’Neill’s side claimed a deserved victory though the sight of winger Sean O’Connor leaving on a stretcher will have dampened the celebrations somewhat.
Man of the Match: There no real stand out performances but Padraig Amond’s first-half goal was the difference between the sides and deserves the accolade based on his decisive strike.
St. Pats: Clarke, Maher, Stevens, Gavin, Haverty, Ryan (Moran ‘74), O’Connor, Byrne, Lynch (Cawley ’81), Guy, Quigley. Subs not used: Rogers, Harris, Haran
Shamrock Rovers: Murphy, Flynn, Cahill, Maguire, Price, Rice, Bradley (Gill 81’), O’Connor, Cameron (Robinson ’66), Amond, Purcell (Twigg ‘75). Subs not used: Doyle, Coleman
Referee: Niall Doyle