Rohan Ricketts 50' -
Shamrock Rovers took a huge step towards reclaiming their Airtricity League title with a 1-0 win over Stephen Kenny's Derry City at Tallaght Stadium on Thursday night.
Rohan Ricketts proved to be the Rovers hero as his 50th minute strike earned Rovers all three points and bar a footballing miracle, a second consecutive league title.
The Hoops started the game brightly, Derry conceded three corners inside the first five minutes as the home side went in search of an early goal.
Rovers had chance after chance in the opening few minutes. On eight minutes, Jim Paterson sent in a tempting looking cross towards Gary Twigg but he couldn't control the header and it sailed wide.
Then, just minutes later there was a scramble in the Rovers box after great link-up play between Stephen Rice and Karl Sheppard lead to a threatening cross but it was well cleared by Ryan McBride.
Derry had their first chance after quarter of an hour. Gareth McGlynn broke through the Rovers defence, and but for a last-ditch tackle from Paterson, he surely would have scored.
That sparked the visitors into life and Daniel Lafferty came close with a terrific free-kick midway through the first-half but his shot went inches wide of Richard's Brush's left-hand post.
Lafferty came close again 15 minutes before half-time and really should have opened the scoring when he was unmarked following McGlynn's corner, but the left-back fluffed his shot and it trickled
Derry had the best chance of the game just before the break. A cross from Lafferty on the left found Zayed, who rose above Brush, who shouldn't have came for the ball, but saw his header come back off the inside of the post and the Rovers defenders managed to get it away.
Michael O'Neill's men then had a big penalty shout just before half-time when Ronan Finn's low cross looked to have come back off Barry Molloy's arm but referee Alan Kelly wasn't interested and waved play on.
Five minutes after half-time Rovers found the breakthrough through Man of the Match Rohan Ricketts.
Brush pumped a long ball up field, which was missed by Twigg, but Ricketts capitalised on a mix up between Stuart Greacen and goalkeeper Ger Doherty to get in between the pair and loft the ball over the keeper and into the empty net.
Rovers then nearly got a second when the two Scots combined, Twigg and Sives, and it looked certain the big centre-half would score but somehow Doherty managed to hold onto it, although in truth the centre-half should have done better.
Derry had a number of chances late on. A curling Patrick McEleney shot was deflected just wide and then McBride saw his header go agonisingly over Brush's crossbar as time ticked away for the Candystripes.
Finn could have sealed the game with ten minutes to go after he raced clean through on goal but Doherty stood firm to save with his legs.
The Hoops could now win the title in their penultimate game of the season against UCD at the Belfield Bowl on Monday October 24th but first they face a trip to Greece to take on POAK in the Europa League.
For Derry, it's a case of what might have been, but overall it will be looked at as a positive season back in the top flight no matter where they finish now.
Shamrock Rovers: Richard Brush; Pat Sullivan, Craig Sives, Dan Murray, Jim Paterson; Stephen Rice, Chris Turner, Ronan Finn, Karl Sheppard (Billy Dennehy 84), Rohan Ricketts (Gary McCabe 74); Gary Twigg.
Unused Substitutes: Ryan Thompson; Ciaran Kilduff, Conor McCormack, Ken Oman, Stephen O'Donnell.
Bookings: Turner (41), Sives (45), Twigg (66).
Derry City: Ger Doherty; Shane McEleney, Stewart Greacen, Ryan McBride (Ruaidhri Higgins 75), Danny Lafferty; Gareth McGlynn (Mark Farren 35 (Ruairi Harkin 75)), Kevin Deery, Barry Molloy, Stephen McLaughlin; Pat McEleney, Eamon Zayed.
Unused Substitutes: Eugene Ferry, Emmet Friars, David McDaid, Michale McMonagle.
Bookings: R McBride (25), Deery (52), Molloy (63), S McEleney (88).
Referee: Alan Kelly.
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Rohan Ricketts (Shamrock Rovers).