Gaffney strike gives Rovers the edge of rivals Bohs
Rory Gaffney’s 25th-minute finish made all the difference for Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium last night as the defending champions recorded a 1-0 win over arch rivals Bohemians in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division.
Following a Dublin derby defeat to St Patrick’s Athletic in Inchicore seven days earlier, Stephen Bradley’s Hoops had their sights on a return to winning ways. As expected the Gypsies didn’t make it easy for their hosts, but Gaffney’s first goal of the season ensured the holders came away with the bragging rights.
Despite also losing out to Derry City in their second game of the campaign, the three in-a-row chasing Rovers are currently just ahead of Pat’s on score difference at the summit of the table. Although Derry have a game in hand after their proposed meeting with UCD on Friday was postponed, it does show how open the title race is proving to be in the opening weeks of the term.
A key figure in their march towards the 2021 Premier Division crown – after being a bit-part player the year before – Gaffney flashed a shot across the goal in the sixth-minute.
The Rovers attacking threat was apparent and they eventually broke the deadlock just past the first-quarter mark. When a Ronan Finn cross down the right-flank deflected into his path, Gaffney fired an angled shot that Bohs netminder James Talbot couldn’t keep out.
The Bohs defence had to dig deep to deny Graham Burke an opportunity on goal moments later and while Rovers didn’t add to their cushion in advance of the interval, they found themselves in a strong position on the resumption.
The visitors stepped up their performance levels when the action resumed, but Jack Byrne was close to doubling the Hoops’ lead on the hour mark – his delicate effort drifting just wide of the target.
As ever, Rovers looked to their bench for fresh impetus with Kilnamanagh native Aaron Greene, Barry Cotter and Danny Mandroiu (against his former club) amongst those to enter the fray. Cotter made an important block to deny Kris Twardek an equaliser shortly after his introduction, but Rovers ultimately came away with all three points and can now look forward to a Monday evening visit to Dundalk.