Derry City have one foot in the final of the Setanta Sports Cup following a comprehensive win over the all-Ireland title holders Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght Stadium. The Candystripes return home with a 3-0 lead helped by the early sending off of Rovers’ Reyaad Pieterse and goals from Kevin Deery, Patrick McEleney and Ryan McBride.
The match was shaped by the controversial sending off after just twelve minutes as Shamrock Rovers found themselves down to ten men and facing a penalty kick. Derry’s Patrick McEleney played the ball through a static Rovers defence which had stood still as the flag went up for Mark Farren who was in an offside position. Kevin Deery played on and as he attempted to round Reyaad Pieterse in the Rovers goal he was taken down. There seemed minimal contact but referee Alan Kelly, looking straight at the incident, pointed to the penalty spot and produced a red card for the South African netminder.
There was a couple of minutes delay as Rovers brought off Daryl Kavanagh to allow Oscar Jannson to come on in goal. Jannson then saved McDaid’s penalty, diving to his right, but Derry captain Kevin Deery was quickest with the follow up and he slotted the ball home for the lead.
Derry had a number of chances to extend their lead in the first half but nothing clear cut and they couldn’t capitalize on their numerical advantage before the break. They went closest when Jannson had to punch away a speculative effort by Stephen McLaughlin just after the half hour mark.
Shamrock Rovers had an opportunity through Aaron Greene but the quick reactions of Derry keeper Gerard Doherty forced the former Sligo player wide of the goal allowing the visiting defence to recover. Greene did managed to locate Stephen Rice but his shot was easily gathered by Doherty.
A fine through ball from Barry Molloy to first half sub Michael Barr created Derry City's next chance. Barr's cross found Patrick McEleney in the box but his shot curled wide of the post.
The second half had only begun when Rovers keeper Jannson was forced to tip over a McLaughlin curling left foot shot from outside the area. Dermot McCaffrey’s subsequent corner was drilled into the box but nobody could force it home. The Candystripes didn't have to wait long, however, before doubling their lead. With six minutes gone in the second period Patrick McEleney's shot from almost thirty yards out was unstoppable as it flew into Jannson's top right corner of his net.
There was a big shout for a Rovers penalty on 78 minutes as Eddie McCallion’s arm connected with Killian Brennan’s cross but referee Alan Kelly waved the play on. Derry's first leg win was then confirmed five minutes from time when Ryan McBride rose highest to head home the excellent Patrick McEleney’s cross. It's advantage to Declan Devine’s Derry City’s team ahead of next Monday’s second leg.
Shamrock Rovers: Reyaad Pierterse; Sean Gannon (Conor McCormack, 60), Graham Gartland, Colin Hawkins, Conor Powell; Daryl Kavanagh (Oscar Jansson, 14), Stephen Rice, Ronan Finn, Killian Brennan; Aaron Greene (Gary O’Neill, 74), Gary Twigg.
Subs not used: Craig Sives, Gary McCabe , Billy Dennehy, Dean Ebbe.
Bookings: Oscar Jannson
Sendings Off: Reyaad Pierterse
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Simon Madden (Michael Barr, 35), Ryan McBride, Eddie McCallion, Dermot McCaffrey; Patrick McEleney, Barry Molloy, Kevin Deery, Stephen McLaughlin (Matthew Crossan, 81); David McDaid, Mark Farren (Ryan Curran, 79).
Subs not used: Eugene Ferry, Barry McNamee, Caoimhin Bonner, Brian McGroary.
Bookings: Kevin Deery, David McDaid
Referee: Alan Kelly
Attendance: 1,000 (estimate)
extratime.ie Man of the Match: Patrick McEleney