Goals from Gary McCabe and Sean Heaney gave Trevor Croly’s Shamrock Rovers a 2-1 win at Tallaght Stadium on Monday night.
McCabe opened the scoring with a penalty after six minutes. Heaney’s second half header put The Hoops two up, before Dave Scully pulled a goal back for The Seagulls from the penalty spot late on in the second half.
Shamrock Rovers took the lead from the penalty spot after six minutes. Kieran Marty Water’s corner looked harmless, but the Bray captain, Adam Mitchell pulled down Hoops starlet Sean Heaney right in front of referee Derek Tomney. Gary McCabe shot the resulting penalty into the top corner of Stephen McGuiness’s net to put The Hoops in front.
Kieran Marty Waters went close to doubling The Hoops lead moments later, as Ronan Finn dispossessed Graham Kelly in midfield before sliding the ball into the left channel where Marty Waters was waiting, however the ex-Seagull’s shot thundered back off the Bray cross-bar.
Rovers were really starting to dominate and really should have been two up on 24 minutes. Marty Waters was involved again, as he put Ciaran Kilduff one on one with Seagull’s keeper, Stephen McGuinness , but the young net minder was on hand to deny the potent striker.
Kilduff found himself one on one with McGuinness minutes later and again he was denied. On this occasion the man between the sticks was quick off his line to slide the ball away from the striker before he could manage to get a shot away.
The Seagulls really struggled to create any clear cut chances in the first half. The Wanderers went route one with the majority of their set pieces, but The Hoop’s back line defended capably and with competence.
The Hoops went close to a second a minute before, the break, as Gary McCabe seen Stephen McGuinness 10 yards off his line, McCabe shot over McGuinness, but Niall Cooney was on hand to head the ball away from danger.
One of The seagull’s frustrations on Monday night was their evident lack of creativity, something that was epitomized after 53 minutes, as Dave Scully picked the ball up in space, before unleashing a hopeful effort that went safely over Barry Murphy’s cross-bar.
The Hoops doubled their lead on 57 minutes, as 18 year old Sean Heaney headed Gary McCabe’s corner past Stephen McGuinness and into the top corner of The Seagull’s net.
The Seagulls were restricted to long range efforts for most of the game. Adam Hanlon had one after 71 minutes, as he twisted and turned through several Hoop’s challenge before firing wide of Murphy’s goal.
Bray pulled one back from the penalty spot after 76 minutes, as Dave Scully converted from 12 yards after Simon Madden was adjudged to have fouled Ismahil Akinade in the Rovers penalty area.
The Hoops could have restored their two goal cushion on 85 minutes as Stephen McGuinness’s clearance went straight to Gary McCabe, who found substitute Robert Bayly, but his shot went well wide of The Seagull’s goal.
Bray gave The Hoops a late scare on, as Niall Cooney headed tamely into the arms of Barry Murphy, after finding himself unmarked six yards out from goal.
Gary McCabe could have got his second mid way through stoppage time, as Marty Waters picked out the winger, but his shot was expertly saved by Bray goalkeeper, Stephen McGuinness.
Shamrock Rovers face a trip to United Park on Friday night, while Bray host to table toppers Dundalk.
Shamrock Rovers: Barry Murphy; Simon Madden, Robert Cornwall, Jason McGuiness, Sean Heaney; Stephen McPhail (Robert Bayly 62), Shane Robinson (C), Ronan Finn (Karl Sheppard 75); Gary McCabe, Ciaran Kilduff (Eamon Zayed 68), Kieran Marty Waters.
Subs Not Used: Craig Hyland (gk), Luke Byrne, David O’Connor; Ryan Brennan.
Bray Wanderers: Stephen McGuinness ; Eric McGill, Adam Mitchell (C), Niall Cooney, Robert Maloney; Dean Zambra, Graham Kelly (Gary Curran 74), David Cassidy; David Scully (Shane O’Neill 85), Ismahil Akinade (Ciaran Byrne 78), Adam Hanlon.
Subs Not Used: Shane Redmond (gk), Michael brown, Jamie McGlynn; Sean Hurley.
Booked: G Kelly (40).
Referee: Derek Tomney.
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Gary McCabe (Shamrock Rovers).