Date: 7:45 p.m. June 2, 2009
Venue: Tallaght Stadium
Att: 3,100 (est)
The opening half was a scrappy affair with both sides struggling to establish momentum and time on the ball. Rovers made six changes to their side that disappointed in drawing 1-1 with Drogheda, this must have told with the Hoops lacking cohesion and spark. Dundalk went closest to opening the scoring early on, Shaun Kelly hitting the outside of the post while to trying to beat the outrushing Duggan. He will feel he should have done better having been played in by Chris Turner following his incisive run.
Rovers finally sprang to life after 35 minutes to take the lead. An optimistic long ball over the top was not dealt with by the Dundalk defence and Gary Twigg showed excellent touch to knock the ball over an advancing Chris Bennion in the Dundalk goal. Twigg’s anticipation, touch and shooting make him a class apart at this level and his 12th goal of the season proved again what a priceless acquisition he has been for Rovers. Darren Mansaram’s sheer physicality was a handful for the Rovers defence all night but with little support his effectiveness was somewhat limited.
This changed in the second half as Dundalk played with more purpose and could easily have scored from a corner when Burns flicked on perfectly but no-one was in a position to capitalise. They finally got their reward when a free kick from their own half was played in to the box; Mansaram won the ball and played it across the face of goal for Daly to tap in from just a few feet out. Both sides had further chances, Shane Robinson, following brilliant chest control, volleyed inches wide and Dundalk’s Ger Rowe was equally as close with a left foot strike when played through by Mansaram.
It was Mansaram himself who very nearly took the lead for the Lillywhites after 80 minutes. He collided with Rovers’ goal keeper Robert Duggan but while everybody was expecting a free out the big English man curled a shot past the keeper only for Rovers to be rescued by an alert Aiden Price heading off of the line.
The match looked like to be headed for a draw until Twigg struck again in the 86th minute. Following a long throw by Stephen Rice, the ball was flicked on for the influential striker to head home from the back post. A further goal from substitute Dessie Baker sealed victory for the home side two minutes later. He beat the offside trap, controlled with his chest and coolly slotted the ball over the keeper to add gloss to the score line.
Dundalk will feel the scoreboard did not reflect the commitment and effort they put in and until the late goals they looked like getting the draw they merited. They will be forced to reflect that the extra bit of class that Rovers possess was the difference between the sides. However, the endeavour they showed tonight should be enough to stay up come the end of the season. Rovers will be mightily relieved to have secured the win coming only three days after a poor draw with Drogheda. Although, they will have to play better when they travel to play Cork City on Friday night and this will tell us a great deal about their aspirations for the rest of the year.
Shamrock Rovers: Duggan; Treacy, Maguire, Price, Bermingham; Bradley (Purcell’83), Rice, Robinson, O’Connor (Cahill’69); Twigg, Amond (Baker’81)
Dundalk: Bennion; Simon Kelly, Burns, Heary (McGinley’61), Synott (Coburn’47); Shaun Kelly, Turner, Daly, Mulvenna; Rowe, Mansaram
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Had the match finished in a draw the award might have gone to Darren Mansram but with another two goals rescuing his team from an average performance it must go once again to Gary Twigg.