Shamrock Rovers have last Laff’ in Dublin derby

by Dave Donnelly

Stephen Bradley cautioned that the league is ‘not over yet’ and ‘there will be twists and turns’ ahead as Shamrock Rovers moved five points clear at the top of the Premier Division with a 1-0 derby win. 

Danny Lafferty’s goal after just four minutes proved the different between the sides as Rovers extended their unbeaten league run to ten games. 

“I think if you offered us this at the start of the season we’d take your hand off,” Bradley said following the full-time whistle. 

“It’s not over yet, there are a lot of difficult games to come, we have to play everyone again. I am sure there will be twists and turns and the league usually goes right to the death. 

“As a game it was a typical derby, a scrappy game at times and the fact that it was first against second, it was never going to be a pretty football match,” said Bradley. 

“I can’t remember too many brilliant football matches in the derbies but I was delighted with the players, we felt it would be that game but we had to be ready for it. 

“The players showed, whether it’s a real football match or a scrappy second-ball game, they can come out on top and that’s a sign of a good team.” 

A disappointed Long added: “There’s lots of football to be played, but obviously Rovers are in the driving seat. 

“It doesn’t really affect us, it would have been great to come here and win, come here and get a result, but we hadn’t really been in the equation up until we beat Dundalk.” 

There was much more than just local bragging rights on offer as first hosted second behind closed doors at Tallaght Stadium, their final home game before meeting AC Milan in the Europa League on September 17. 

Dundalk’s dominance of the league in recent years has meant there haven’t been too many derbies of such consequence, with last season’s FAI Cup semi-final the closest comparison. 

With the sides separated by just two points going in Saturday’s game – and Bohs on a five-match league winning streak – this was poised to be a potentially pivotal game. 

A win of any sort would have seen Keith Long’s side go top for the first time this season, while three points for the Hoops would leave them five points clear with eight to play. 

With that in mind, it was always going to be a brutal spectacle. Rovers have wowed this year with their high-intensity passing and Bohs with their pace and variety in attack and solid defence. 

There was little evidence of either on Saturday afternoon as the Hoops led from the third minute thanks to a defensive blunder from Bohs defender Andy Lyons. 

Stephen McGuinness had been forced to get down low to parry a bobbling Graham Burke cross and Lyons’ lazy attempt to clear was blocked and rebounded into the net courtesy of Danny Lafferty. 

Bohs had a penalty shout in either half – both for possible fouls by Liam Scales on Danny Grant – but Rovers largely controlled the game without ever threatening to put it to bed. 

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