Rory Gaffney scores for Shamrock Rovers in the Dublin derby as Bradley’s men close the gap on top of the table

On the eve of that game, Shamrock Rovers boss Stephen Bradley said his team would focus on their own work rather than worrying about what Derry City were doing.

However, triker Rory Gaffney admitted the Candystripes appeared to have an easier double header than the Dubliners over the Bank Holiday weekend.

The chart this morning tells a different story. Gaffney’s second-half header gave the Hoops a deserved win in this derby and the added bonus is that they are now three points clear of the leaders after a surprise Brandywell defeat for the leaders.

Bradley’s charges controlled the end of a derby played in front of 7,424 spectators, with Tim Clancy’s Saints dangerous at the break before the break but keeping their distance after Gaffney’s attempt to break through. Five subs and a switch to a more offensive formation failed to move the dial as Rovers keeper Alan Mannus was well protected.

Loss at Inchicore earlier in the campaign had angered the Rovers camp but this was a solid start to a significant week, with Dundalk visiting that area on Monday and a trip to Dalymount the following Friday capping a hectic period.

You might just use it to generate real momentum. The Hoops were territorial up front in the first half and the visitors gradually came back after a brilliant start as they tried to press high with Billy King and Darragh Burns on either side of Eoin Doyle.

While the locals had more time on the ball, it was the visitors who came closest to scoring with a break, underscoring their threat when the quick Burns released King for a shot that was parried in the direction of Doyle, who should have have to meet on the run at close range.

Andy Lyons was absent from Rovers through injury, their secret weapon at left-back in recent weeks, and his replacement Sean Kavanagh is providing another service. He’s comfortable with the ball on his feet and sends in crosses instead of going behind and he’s had plenty of opportunities to do so, but the Inchicore side have been confident enough to defend those situations.

Their shakiest moment came when Danny Mandroiu was released by a Jack Byrne pass and went down under a challenge from backtracking James Abankwah. The home bank yelled in vain for a penalty.

But their spirits improved after the restart with a clever move from Mandroiu to collect a pass from Byrne inside and slice a cross at the far post, where Gaffney pivoted into space to fire a down header.

It gave them a head start that never looked vulnerable.

Cloverleaf Rover: Mannus, Hoare, Lopes, Grace; O’Neill; Finn (Gannon 88), Towell (Watt 72), Byrne (McCann 88), Kavanagh (Farrugia 72); Gaffney (Greene 66), Mandroiu

St Patrick’s Athletic: Anang, Abankwah, Redmond, Grivosti, Breslin (M Doyle 73); Ranger; O’Reilly (McCormack 82), McClelland (Coughlan 73); Burns, E. Doyle (Scott 84), King (Owolabi 73)

Referee: Paul McLaughlin Rory Gaffney scores for Shamrock Rovers in the Dublin derby as Bradley’s men close the gap on top of the table

Fry Electronics Team

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