By Rob Wright
The top three sides dominate this edition of the team of the week with Shamrock Rovers and Sligo Rovers providing three players apiece, while Derry and Drogheda United help to complete our eleven.
Gary Rogers (Sligo Rovers)
Rogers has had precious little to do this season and has only conceded two goals in Sligo Rovers’ opening eight games but he earned his corn against Cork City. The Rovers shot-stopper was alert and kept the game scoreless early on, denying Denis Behan and Shane Duggan with some fine blocks. He was also a platform on which Sligo built their attacks and his quick use of the ball helped to create several counter-attacks.
Evan McMillan (Sligo Rovers)
Always alert to dangers from Cork City’s front-line, McMillan helped to anticipate problems before they developed and was on hand to cut out danger. A solid and dependable presence at the back when it came to set-pieces, McMillan also offered another option for the Bit O’Red when it came to corner-kicks and free-kicks of their own. Indeed it was McMilan who forced the late penalty that killed off any chance of a Cork comeback.
Ger O’Brien (St Patrick's Athletic)
St Pat’s have struggled for goals this season but look increasingly solid at the back and full-back Ger O’Brien is a big reason for that. Never panicked, O’Brien was a cool head at the back for the Saints against UCD and patient and controlled when in possession of the ball. He linked up well with Conan Byrne down the right without ever leaving himself exposed and helped to snuff out the Students’ forays forward.
Ian Bermingham (St Patrick's Athletic)
Much like his team-mate O’Brien, Ian Bermingham impressed in the full-back position for St Pat’s against UCD. Slightly more adventurous than O’Brien and linking up with the frontline more, Bermingham was a threat going forward, offering an extra dimension in attack and his crossing from the left gave UCD plenty to deal with. Indeed, he almost scored himself with a cross-cum-shot in the second half, unlucky to see his effort just sail over.
Derek Prendergast (Drogheda United)
Picking up a rather harsh booking after just eight minutes, Prendergast was forced to be more cautious in his tackling than he usually would be, but he still managed to put in a fine display against Shelbourne. Making several important last-ditch tackles and getting in important block to deny Philly Hughes with his goalkeeper beaten, Prendergast’s discipline and confidence in the tackle helped keep his side secure at the back as they chased the game in the second half.
Lee Lynch (Sligo Rovers)
The Limerick native was at his best against Cork, helping to control the tempo and pace of the game from midfield and chipping in with the game’s crucial opening goal. Lynch’s 18-yard volley gave Sligo the edge just when it looked as if Cork would take a 0-0 scoreline into the break but it was his overall play and use of the ball that made him stand him out.
Ronan Finn (Shamrock Rovers)
Shamrock Rovers finally kicked into gear on Friday, handing out a 7-0 mauling to Bray Wanderers and it was Ronan Finn who was at the heart of the Rovers performance. Two goals (one from the penalty spot) and two assists only tell part of the story as Finn ran the Bray defence ragged with his incisive passing. The visitors had no answer to his movement and passing and if the Hoops are to make inroads into Sligo’s 12 point lead, Finn is going to be crucial to them.
Danny Ledwith (Shamrock Rovers)
If Finn was the archetypical midfield general pulling the strings against Bray, then Danny Ledwith was the swashbuckling attacking winger, full of running and skill. Opening the scoring after just six minutes and providing the ammunition for further Rovers goals, Ledwith linked up brilliantly with his side’s front line and was a constant threat.
Michael Rafter (Derry City)
Moved to midfield to make way for the returning Rory Patterson, Rafter initially started the game against Dundalk out on the wing before being moved inside. His running with the ball and aggression against the Dundalk defence and his ability to find room in the space between the Dundalk midfield and their back four caused all kinds of problems for the home side. Although the penalty awarded against Mark Rossiter for a foul on Rafter was harsh, the Derryman was so often in the right place at the right time for his side.
Rory Patterson (Derry City)
Having missed Derry’s last two games, in which they won 4-0 and 2-0, there were questions as to whether Patterson would be able to force his way back into the team immediately. Not only did he do so, but against Dundalk he scored two and made the third as his side cruised to a 3-1 victory. Showing good composure to level from the penalty spot after his side went behind, Patterson then teed up Barry McNamee for his side’s second. He again kept his cool to convert Derry’s second penalty of the night and helped to ensure the Candystripes kept up the pressure on league leaders Sligo.
Mark Quigley (Shamrock Rovers)
It’s fair to say that Mark Quigley hasn’t enjoyed the start to life he would have hoped for at Shamrock Rovers. Coming from Sligo, where his goals helped to seal the title, and tasked with replacing Gary Twigg in Tallaght, Quigley has struggled to adapt to life with the Hoops. However against Bray, the signs were positive. He scored his first league goal for Rovers with a neat header but it was his link-up play and his willingness to work for the team that caught the eye. If he can build on this display, Quigley should soon become the goal threat Rovers need.