Ten man Derry City came from behind yet again to win an explosive match at Tallaght Stadium thanks to two second half goal from Thomas Stewart and Ciaran Martyn. Shamrock Rovers will rue a host of missed opportunities, including a first half penalty hit wide by Shane Robinson, in a game they should have won. Rovers took the lead with an excellent goal from Dessie Baker on the 66th minute but failed to capitalise on having a man advantage for the whole of the second half.
The first half was a very cagey affair with both sides reluctant to commit men forward. There were little or no clear cut chances but all the limited goal mouth action was directed at Derry goalkeeper Gerard Doherty. Although they had plenty of possession, Rovers were very wasteful when in good positions. Several crosses from open play and corners were either over hit or too close to the keeper. Both sides exchanged bookings early, Stephen Bradley for Rovers after high tackle on Gareth McGlynn and City live Delaney for a fowl on Ollie Cahill.
The match came to life after 25 minutes when Rovers were awarded a penalty after Dessie Baker was brought down by Peter Hutton. Rovers captain Shane Robinson stepped up but side footed his spot kick wide of the left hand side post. The half ended with Delaney receiving his second yellow card for a clumsy tackle on Robinson. Derry had to reorganise and immediately brought on Mark McChrystal for the lively Liam Kearney.
Rovers started the second half with much renewed vigour. With just five minutes in, Gary Twigg was fowled inches outside the penalty area by the substitute who was booked for his trouble. The resulting free kick from Stephen Bradley was a poor effort, placed straight at the keeper. After a few more wasted chances from Rovers they finally took the lead with a superb 65th minute strike from Baker. The move was started with a surging run from left back, Ian Bermingham. He played it into the feet of Baker who dummied, took the return pass from Twigg and finished first time with a lovely half volley.
Rovers drove forward and should have made the game safe five minutes later. Baker played in Robinson with a beautiful through ball and the captain chose to play in Sean O’Connor. With only the keep to beat the substitute blazed over in what proved to be the turning point of the match. Derry broke immediately up field, Molloy crossed to the back post for Thomas Stewart to head home. It was to get worse for Rovers with Ciaran Martyn running on to a Barry Malloy cut back to fire in the net. The Rovers faithful couldn’t believe their eyes and despite late pressure they could not force an equaliser.
The Candystripes remain unbeaten at the top of the table jointly with Bohemians and after last week's dramatic late win over Cork, are staking their claim to being serious title contenders. Tonight they had only two shots at goal and were far from their best but crucially won, inflicting a first defeat on Rovers at their new ground.
Shanrock Rovers: Barry Murphy; Simon Madden, Aidan Price, Simon Webb, Ian Bermingham (Tadhg Purcell 88); Stephen Rice (Danny O’Connor 65), Stephen Bradley (Greg Cameron 80), Shane Robinson, Ollie Cahill; Dessie Baker, Gary Twigg.
Subs not used: Robert Duggan (gk), Pat Flynn.
Booked: Bradley (2).
Derry City: Ger Doherty; Ger O’Brien, Clive Delaney, Peter Hutton, StevenGray; Thomas Stewart, Ruaidhri Higgins (Barry Molloy 55), Ciaran Martyn, Liam Kearney Mark McCrystal 45); Gareth McGlynn, Mark Farren (Sammy Morrow 65).
Subs not used: Pat Jennings (gk), James McClean.
Booked: Delaney (1), McCrystal (50)
Sent off: Delaney (45).
Referee: Danien Hancok.