Sam McKeever reports from Tallaght Stadium
Graham Burke scored four goals in a fantastic attacking display from Shamrock Rovers as they beat Derry City 6-1 at Tallaght Stadium on Friday night.
It was the away side who started the brighter as a corner from Nicky Low on the left hand side found the head of Eoin Toal who could not keep his header on target, the ball hitting the top of his head and went wide.
Low was then involved once again just moments later as his quick-thinking shot from the halfway line nearly paid off with Kevin Horgan scrambling back to his own goal line, but the midfielder was unlucky as his effort was just over the bar.
Ronan Curtis got involved as Derry continued to dominate the opening minutes of the game. Hhe got the better of Scottish centre-half Ally Gilchrist before pulling it back to Rory Patterson but Sam Bone did well to charge down the shot, diverting it away for a corner.
Rovers then finally had their first shot of the game as the clock neared towards the 20 minute mark, as the ball came out to Sean Kavanagh on the edge of the box before he unleashing a fantastic volley which Ger Doherty was equal to, getting down well to tip it around the post for a corner.
The Hoops had the best chance of the game then minutes later as former Fulham man Kavanagh played Brandon Miele through one on one with Ger Doherty but he scuffed his shot wide.
Derry almost got the lead they richly deserved before the half-hour mark. A fantastic through ball by Low carved open the Rovers defence, allowing Patterson to latch onto it before rounding Horgan only for his effort to be heroically cleared off the line by Lee Grace with a last ditch slide to divert it for a corner.
Rovers took the lead five minutes before half time. A lovely lofted ball by Finn split the Derry defence to play Graham Burke through and he tucked it away into the top corner for the game’s first goal.
Seconds into the second half Rovers should have doubled their lead. A good one two between Kavanagh and Burke sent the latter down the right and he picked out Dan Carr in the middle of the box, but Carr got too much under the ball, causing it to sail over the bar.
The Hoops doubled their lead soon after as a great ball by Sam Bone put Kavanagh through and he showed composure to slot it into the bottom corner, showing what Derry have missed out on by not capturing his signature last month.
Another good move by Rovers saw the hosts go three up. A good ball down the left had Derry caught out before an unexpected back heel to skipper Finn gave him the chance to shoot as he slid with his right foot to get his effort away. Doherty got a hand to it but he could not keep it out.
Moments later Doherty gave a criminal clearance straight to Trevor Clarke who picked out Burke in acres of space, and he placed it past Doherty into the bottom corner, adding more misery to Derry’s night.
The Candystripes did not give in though as they pulled a goal back with a quarter of an hour to go as a good ball from Patterson put Ronan Hale through on goal and he took his chance well, smashing it into the bottom corner to give some small respite from the onslaught being suffered down the other end.
The Hoops took mere seconds to restore the four goal deficit as good work by Miele down the left hand side allowed him get to the by-line. He then put in a fantastic low cross which two Derry defenders could not reach with last ditch tackles before being tapped in by Burke at the back post to complete his hat-trick.
Burke then grabbed his fourth goal of the night as Miele played him in before he put the ball under Doherty’s legs to complete the rout, the first time Kenny Shields has conceded six in a game as Derry manager.
Shamrock Rovers: Kevin Horgan; Ethan Boyle (Roberto Lopes 68), Lee Grace, Ally Gilchrist, Sam Bone; Trevor Clarke, Ronan Finn (Dave McAllister 73, Brandon Miele, Sean Kavanagh, Graham Burke; Dan Carr (Gary Shaw 71).
Subs not used: Tomer Chencinski (gk), Luke Byrne, Joel Coustrain, Sean Boyd.
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Aaron McEneff, Jamie McDonagh (Conor McDermott 28), Rory Hale (Dapo Kaydo 82), Ronan Curtis; Rory Patterson, Eoin Toal, Darren Cole, Ben Doherty; Niall Logue (Ronan Hale 58), Nicky Low.
Subs not used: Eric Grimes (gk), Evan Tweed, Scott Whitside, Jack Doyle.
Referee: Tomás Connolly.
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Graham Burke (Shamrock Rovers)