A somewhat unconvincing Shamrock Rovers stretched their lead at the top of the Premier Division to four points as they eventually overcame an impressive Derry City at Tallaght Stadium.
Substitute Danny Mandriou tapped home what was to be the game's winning goal eleven minutes from time as the Hoops put clear daylight between themselves and their nearest challenger.
Trusting the same eleven who started last Monday’s stalemate with St Patrick’s Athletic, Derry shaded this first half with goalkeeper Brian Maher left untested.
The best of the goal-mouth action took place in front of the home side’s goal in the opening 45.
Matty Smith struggled to deal with the weight of Jamie McGonigle’s squared ball after City had hit Rovers on the counter 20 minutes in. Hoops goalkeeper Alan Mannus making the most of Smith’s heavy touch as he scrambled the ball to safety.
Rovers, who made five changes from their win over Sligo earlier this week, saw their defence stretched a number of times in this period.
Smith's flashed cross-come-shot just needed just a toe to convert, but no City player was on hand to capitalise as the ball fizzed across the face of Mannus’ goal.
April’s Soccer Writers’ player of the month McGonigle was denied by a smart reaction save from Mannus 26 minutes in. This, after the former Crusaders striker outmuscled Sean Hoare to meet Brandon Kavanagh’s searching cross.
Alan Mannus to the rescue for the home side as Jamie McGonigle looks to put Derry ahead. Heating up nicely here at Tallaght Stadium...#RTEsoccer— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) May 13, 2022
📺 RTÉ2 pic.twitter.com/Yj42uilxGa
Rovers slowly stemmed Derry’s flow and gained a foot-hold in this tie before the break, although Maher remained essentially a by-stander.
Both Richie Towell and Monday’s hat-trick hero Graham Burke skied efforts later in the half. While Rory Gaffney’s had Maher on his toes for the first time on 44 minutes. The Tuam native’s effort on the spin from the edge of the D, dragging narrowly past the City post, although Maher looked like he had the situation covered.
Mannus kept out former team-mate Danny Lafferty at his front post early in the second half after another speedy Derry counter down their left side.
Alan Mannus stands firm again as Daniel Lafferty's powerful effort almost gives Derry the lead...— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) May 13, 2022
Shamrock Rovers 0 Derry City 0#RTEsoccer
Derry hit Rovers down the same wing just past the hour. A heroic last-ditch challenge from substitute Sean Kavanagh stopping Thomson’s close range strike which was deflected over the Hoops goal.
Maher had to be vigilant to get down and palm away Burke’s shot on 75. While Hoare scuppered Rovers’ best chance of the game when he blasted over from eight yards after Burke teed-up the centre half who was afforded ample time and space.
Stephen Bradley’s charges made this period of pressure count on 78 minutes.
Allowed drift inside the Derry area from the left, Andy Lyons unleashed a curling effort which was pawed directly into the path of the gleeful Mandriou by the sprawling Maher. Mandriou left with a simple tap in, much to the delight of a now raucous home crowd.
Danny Mândroiu puts the champions ahead with 10 minutes left at Tallaght Stadium. Will it be enough to secure the points?— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) May 13, 2022
Shamrock Rovers 1 Derry City 0#RTEsoccer
Cameron Dummigan’s header struck the top of the Rovers crossbar from a Derry corner at the death as the visitors searched in vein for what may have been a deserved a leveller given what had come before.
But the Dubliners held out for a valuable victory to add to their lead at the top.
Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Sean Hoare, Roberto Lopes, Sean Gannon (Sean Kavanagh 55); Ronan Finn (Barry Cotter 81), Andy Lyons; Chris McCann (Dylan Watts 69), Richie Towell; Graham Burke, Rory Gaffney (Danny Mandriou 68), Jack Byrne.
Derry City: Brian Maher; Ronan Boyce, Eoin Toal, Shane McEleney, Danny Lafferty; Cameron Dummigan, Will Patching; Joe Thomson; Matty Smith (Evan McLaughlin 78), Brandon Kavanagh (James Akintunde 66); Jamie McGonigle.
Referee: Neil Doyle.