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Kevin Devaney was the Bohemians hero on Monday night as his 44th minute goal proved the winner in a compelling Dublin derby against Shamrock Rovers.
Rovers were the dominant side in the earliest stages but it was Bohemians who first threatened to score, Keith Ward shooting narrowly wide before Devaney headed a Keith Buckley cross wide at the far post. Ward then hit a free off the stanchion behind the Rovers goal, and all this before the home side had caught sight of the Bohemians goal.
Devaney almost picked out Buckley with a low ball into the danger area in the 20th minute but to the home fans’ relief Oscar Jansson got there first, palming the ball out in to the box and, ultimately, to safety.
It wasn’t until the 29th minute that the home side first threatened seriously, when Pat Sullivan whipped in a daisy-cutter that would surely have been turned in from close range by Gary Twigg were it not for the timely intervention of Kevin Feely.
Twigg then had another shot blocked away by Feely before cracked a half volley over the bar from Shane O’Connor’s cross. With the first half drawing to a close Rovers were now on top and in the 37th minute Thomas Stewart drove a first time effort against Greg Murray’s crossbar. Feely then beat away two successive strikes from Gary McCabe and it seemed only a matter of time until Rovers scored.
But the breakthrough, when it came just a minute before half-time, fell to Bohemians. It came from Ward’s free kick wide on the left, aimed at the towering figure of Evan McMillan lurking on the edge of the six yard box. McMillan missed it, but the ball bounced off Jansson and into the path of Devaney who drove home from eight yards.
Two minutes after the restart Ward might have added a second when Ken Oman presented him with the ball on the edge of the Rovers box. But Ward’s snap-shot whistled right and wide of the home goal.
Moments later and Twigg hit the Bohemians bar for the second time that evening. He latched on to a flick-on from Stewart but his hooked shot bounced back out and was cleared by Feely.
Rovers continued to press, looking for an equaliser, but Bohemians were impressively composed under attack and Feely continued to dominate as Rovers threw everything forwards.
Ciaran Kilduff and Killian Brennan came on for the Hoops as Stephen Kenny sought a way back for his team. Ronan Finn saw couple of efforts deflected away and then Bohs almost snatched another on the counter attack. Pender sent substitute Ken Carr racing through on goal and only a superb save from Jansson kept his side in the game.
Rovers kept going until the final whistle with a number of half chances slipping b in the dying minutes. Ken Oman might have done better than direct the ball straight at Murray when Feely slipped and allowed him sight of goal, but when the whistle came it heralded three deserved points for the visitors.
Shamrock Rovers: Oscar Jansson; Pat Sullivan, Ken Oman, Colin Hawkins, Shane O’Connor; Gary McCabe (Ciaran KIlduff 60), Ronan Finn, Stephen Rice, Billy Dennehy (Killian Brennan 74); Gary Twigg, Thomas Stewart (Aaron Greene 82).
Subs not used: Reyaad Pieterse, Kerrea Gilbert, Conor McCormack, Daryl Kavanagh.
Booked: Oman (44), Rice (68), Sullivan (90+2).
Bohemians: Greg Murray; Michael Barker, Evan McMillan, Kevin Feely, Roberto Lopes; Keith Buckley, Keith Ward (John O’Connor 90+2), Derek Pender, Dave Mulcahy, Karl Moore (Andy Mulligan 67); Kevin Devaney (Ken Carr 83).
Subs not used: Andy McNulty, Luke Byrne, Stephen Traynor, Dave Scully.
Booked: Buckley (86).
Referee: Paul McLaughlin.
Attendance: 3,500 (estimate).
Extratime Man of the Match: Kevin Feely (Bohemians).