Gaffney strikes at the death to give Rovers all three points in Longford
By Daire Walsh
Rory Gaffney was the Shamrock Rovers hero at Bishopsgate this afternoon as his dramatic 95th-minute goal gave the defending champions a precious 1-0 victory against Longford Town in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division.
Following back-to-back defeats at the hands of Dundalk and current top-flight table-toppers Sligo Rovers, the Hoops looked set to lose further ground in the title race with the sides still deadlocked at the end of normal time.
Shamrock Rovers hero Rory Gaffney gave the defending champions a precious 1-0 victory against Longford Town
However, Stephen Bradley has instilled a never-say-attitude in his team and they broke Longford hearts for a second time this season in a frantic end to the proceedings.
When the sides met at the Tallaght Stadium in April, Sean Gannon struck home on 93 minutes to provide Rovers with the maximum points on offer. It was even more dramatic on this occasion, but thanks to the late heroics of Gaffney, they are back to within one point of Sligo at the summit.
Although the visitors were agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock inside the opening minute through Graham Burke, it was a largely cagey opening half. Gaffney did have the ball in the Longford net early on, only for the goal to be ruled out for a handball in the build-up to the move.
Burke had another brace of near misses, but both sides ultimately remained scoreless heading into the dressing rooms at the interval.
Former Preston North End attacker Burke continued to offer the greatest threat, while Dean Williams and Chris McCann provided fresh impetus off the bench. Nonetheless, Longford were well on course to hang on for a share of the spoils.
That was until Gaffney fired home at a right-hand angle after Lee Steacy had initially produced a superb save off a Danny Mandroiu cross. This win will leave Rovers on cloud nine ahead of their home clash with Finn Harps on June 11 – a game that will see the Tallaght side welcoming back supporters for the first time in 2021.