Shamrock Rovers 2-0 Derry City
Pat Fenlon got his Shamrock Rovers tenure off to a winning start with a 2-0 win over Derry City in tonight’s SSE Airtricity League encounter at Tallaght Stadium.
Derry controlled the first half, with Rory Patterson and Patrick McEleney denied by Rovers keeper Barry Murphy, while further efforts from Michael Duffy and Patterson sailed wide.
But the Fenlon factor saw Rovers stun their visitors with two goals in ten second-half minutes as Ronan Finn was inspired after the break.
First Finn powered a header past Ger Doherty before supplying the cross for Dean Kelly to seal a 2-0 win.
After an initial glimpse of a threat from a Gary McCabe free-kick, which was gathered by Derry keeper Ger Doherty, Rovers were unable to string a few passes together.
Then Derry took control and should have gone in front with a number of chances inside 10 minutes.
First Patterson picked up a loose ball in midfield but his effort lacked height and accuracy to worry Murphy.
Derry youngster Stephen Dooley was threatening down the right wing and minutes later he turned Rovers left back Luke Byrne inside out. He got inside the box and pulled the ball back to Duffy who didn't make great contact and his effort went harmlessly wide.
After skying a free-kick high and wide, McEleney found himself 20 yards from goal, and seeing Murphy off his line tried to chip him, but the shot-stopper recovered to touch the ball out for a corner.
Rovers showed little in response, with McCabe hitting the wall on 16 minutes after Marty Waters cut inside off the right wing and went to ground under the slightest touch from Barry McNamee. What followed wasn't pretty, with neither side able to retain possession or create a chance for ten minutes.
On the half hour, Finn who hadn't seen much of the ball, played a one-two with Simon Madden before finding Kelly at the back post but Doherty gathered it.
Derry were back in the ascendancy and should have gone ahead in the final five minutes of the half.
McEleney first curled the ball around Conor Kenna to Patterson on the left side of the box. He was forced wide by Kenna and Murphy, who had raced off his line. Patterson finally got his effort in but Murphy got down to save. And when the ball came back to Duffy, his curling effort missed the far right corner.
It was all Derry and it was McEleney again who was provider for Duffy, whose glancing header at the far post went wide.
At the death, Dooley found McNamee in the centre of the field and his delightful ball was controlled by Duffy on the edge of the box. His curling effort, however, went wide of the left corner of Murphy's goal as the teams went in 0-0 at the break.
Fenlon's half-time team-talk worked wonders as Rovers showed greater intensity from the re-start with City’s Aaron Barry preventing Kelly getting in on goal inside 50 seconds of the half.
Minutes later, Patterson was fortunate as his push in the back on Ryan Brennan following a corner went unpunished, before Duffy fired straight at Murphy as he bore down on goal after a long ball down the right. It was the last chance Derry would have just before the hour mark.
Rovers took the lead after 61 minutes when Waters found space down the left flank and his cross saw Kelly head back across goal to Finn, whose header into the right top corner saw Doherty rooted to the spot.
McNamee replied, as he blazed an effort wide when Dooley had, once again, got the better of Byrne down the right.
McCabe hit the side netting before Kelly put the game beyond doubt in the 70th minute.
Finn drifted past two players down the right and his chip across goal was headed home by Kelly.
Dooley snatched at a chance with five minutes remaining while Ryan McBride's effort from half-way was tipped over by Murphy in added time.
It was harsh on City who, but for poor finishing, should have led at the break. But the Fenlon factor ended a run of two consecutive defeats for Rovers.
They stayed in the game when under the cosh, and punished Derry when the chances arose.
The victory sees Rovers move level with St Patrick's Athletic in third place, six points behind Cork City and ten off Dundalk’s lead.
Shamrock Rovers: Barry Murphy, Simon Madden, Jason McGuinness, Conor Kenna, Luke Byrne, Kieran Marty Waters (Karl Sheppard 65), Ryan Brennan, Shane Robinson, Gary McCabe (Sean O'Connor 86), Ronan Finn (Robert Bayly 73), Dean Kelly.
Derry City: Gerard Doherty, Danny Ventre, Ryan McBride, Aaron Barry, Mark Timlin (Dean Jarvis 79), Barry McNamee, Philip Lowry, Stephen Dooley, Michael Duffy, Patrick McEleney (Ryan Curran 74), Rory Patterson (Josh Treacy 85).