Gypsies maintain hoodoo over Rovers

by Dave Donnelly

League of Ireland Premier Division
Shamrock Rovers 0
Bohemians 1

Bohemians secured the Dublin Derby bragging rights once more as they cut the gap to league leaders Shamrock Rovers to five points with a game in hand as they won 1-0 in Tallaght.

Dinny Corcoran scored at the second attempt, after his penalty was saved by Alan Mannus, to earn Keith Long’s side their sixth win in seven attempts over the Hoops.

Rovers ended the first half with nine players on the pitch after defenders Trevor Clarke and Lee Grace were sent off, but they had chances to level despite their numerical disadvantage.

The Rovers rearguard was terrorised by Bohs winger Danny Grant throughout and the 19-year-old was central to both Clarke’s and Grace’s dismissals.

Grace picked up a booking inside five minutes as he was judged to have brought down Grant on the edge of the box.

Another probing run in between the Hoops’ centre-halves resulted in Clarke being shown a straight red as referee Paul McLaughlin deemed him to have unfairly denied a clear goalscoring chance.

Up until Clarke’s 28th-minute dismissal, Rovers had been marginally the brighter side and could have taken the lead on 14 minutes when Ronan Finn headed Jack Byrne’s corner off the bar.

Aaron McEneff went close moments later as he raced through on goal but, faced with a goalkeeper in James Talbot who has conceded just three goals this season, he saw his shot saved.

The game turned on Clarke’s red card just before the half-hour, and things got worse for Rovers nine minutes later when Grace saw red.

Keith Buckley found space in the space created by Clarke’s absence and aimed a shot at goal from the edge of the box, and Grace was deemed to block the ball with his hand.

Replays showed Grace had, in fact, been struck in the face by the ball but McLaughlin had no hesitation in awarding the spot kick and showing a distraught Grace a second yellow.

There was more drama still as Corcoran’s spot-kick was saved down low by Mannus, but a wicked spin saw the ball fall to Corcoran, who slid in to break the deadlock.

Rovers had chances to equalise after the break as, first, sub Daniel Carr forced a good stop from Talbot and ex-Gypsy Roberto Lopes shot just wide, but Bohs held on for the three points.

“I think we deserved to win,” Long said after the game.

“It certainly helps when Rovers go down to nine men, losing two players. Contentious decisions. I haven’t seen them back but I think the referee gets them right.

“Second half, I’m a little bit disappointed as with nine men versus 11 I thought we could have got a second goal which, maybe, could have opened the floodgates a little bit.

“I’m delighted to come here and win. The intention was to bridge the gap between ourselves and Rovers. We were able to do that by getting the three points tonight.”

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