Shamrock Rovers returned to winning ways with a 3-0 demolition of St Patrick’s Athletic on Tuesday night.
It was the perfect preparation for the Hoops’ second Dublin derby in a week as they travel to Dalymount Park to face a Bohemians side they’ve already lost to twice this season.
Lee Grace and Sam Bone scored their first goals for Rovers either side of a Ronan Finn strike with the final kick of the first half.
Graham Burke – playing his third game in four days after his exertions for Ireland against Celtic – didn’t get on the scoresheet but was unplayable for much of his 65 minutes.
He was first to test Canadian goalkeeper Tyson Farago – one of two Canadian goalkeepers to start, in a League of Ireland first – with a shot from distance.
And it was his beautiful floated delivery minutes later, after Dan Carr had done brilliantly to force Ian Bermingham to concede a corner, that Grace connected with an angled a header into the net.
Rovers lost Brandon Miele early on with an apparent hamstring strain, but they continued to dominate, albeit without creating many clear-cut chances.
A lovely one-touch move between Finn and Carr almost sent the striker through on goal but Finn’s final pass was slightly too heavy – but the pair would combine to devastating effect moments later.
Carr peeled away into space on the left, creating space for Finn to run into, and slid the ball in for the captain who slid in to poke the ball past Farago.
Pat’s should have halved the deficit within a minute of the restart but Kevin Toner somehow failed to get on the end of Conan Byrne’s deep cross with the goal wide open.
And a neeedless foul by Toner on Finn led to the third as Burke’s free kick was cleared only as far as Bone just inside the box, and he rifled home his maiden goal for the club.
Saints rallied late on and were millimetres from pulling one back when Conan Byrne’s volley beat Tomer Chencinski, but the outstanding Ethan Boyle headed off the line.
“We’ve been playing well, we just haven’t been scoring,” Hoops boss Stephen Bradley told the Dublin Gazette.
“We knew we weren’t a million miles off because we’ve been creating chances, so tonight is pleasing.”
Burke will play in Friday’s derby before meeting up with Ireland ahead of Monday’s friendly in Paris, and Bradley revealed he had doubts about playing him.
“He’s just taken it all in his stride. He’s been excellent in how he’s handled it – he’s just gone and played.
“Whether it’s in Sligo or it’s over in Celtic or it’s banter out the back garden, he just wants to go and play.
“When I asked him how he felt, he said ‘I’m tired, but I want to play.’ When a player like that has an attitude like that you have to play him.”
Pats boss Liam Buckley added: “It’s a tough league. You need to turn up in all your games and we certainly didn’t turn up this evening in the first half.”