An historic, record-breaking night for Shamrock Rovers as they finally got the result they’ve craved over Bohemians.
A crowd of 7,021 — the highest ever at Tallaght Stadium for a league game — saw the Hoops put more than two years of anguish behind them against their most bitter of rivals.
It’s taken nine attempts for Rovers to send their supporters home in buoyant mood from this fixture and it was the head of returning hero Graham Burke they had to thank for starting the weekend with a bang.
The forward has been across to England with Preston and back again — not to mention scoring on his senior Ireland debut against the USA in June of last year — in the time since Rovers last tasted victory in this derby in May 2017.
His stunning first-half header proved decisive as the only goal of the game but his contribution on his own goalline with two clearances were equally as crucial.
These three points may only help in rubber-stamping second place, unless of course Dundalk suffer a monumental collapse in the run-in, but it is a win that ends a hoodoo.
Jack Byrne was withdrawn in the 87th minute, by which point Rovers boss Stephen Bradley had already settled for the 1-0.
They saw the game out with ease, even if Bohs did rally slightly in the second half after a performance in the opening 45 which was probably their most disappointing all season.
Danny Mandroiu, usually so composed and productive in the final third, was sloppy and ineffective. Passes went astray and the Ireland Under-21 international seemed uninterested as Rovers went about their business with a purpose and energy the visitors just couldn’t match.
Keith Long’s side may have been up against a fierce wind but they didn’t do themselves justice as Rovers took control.
The opening goal was crucial on a night when one was enough, and it illustrated the differences between the teams. Aaron McEneff switched play from the right to the left where wing back Sean Kavanagh was advancing.
Bohs captain Derek Pender wasn’t out quick enough to stop the cross — priority number one in such a scenario — and it was whipped in with pace and precision for Burke to meet it with a bullet header.
James Talbot had no chance and Rovers were deservedly ahead. Their bench celebrated that goal in unison, head coach Bradley letting out a roar of delight as he was mobbed by members of his backroom team.
Burke, too, released a passionate scream as he slid in celebration.
Although they were still put through the ringer to savour the moment. Bohs rallied after the break and Burke headed off the line in quick succession on the hour mark — first clearing Darragh Leahy’s looping effort before instinctively putting his forehead in the way as Rob Cornwall blasted a volley towards the net.
They were the only moments of real threat from Bohs on a night which belonged to Rovers and will go down in the record books.
SHAMROCK ROVERS: Mannus; O’Brien, Lopes, Grace, S Kavanagh; McEneff, O’Neill; Burke (Bolger 66), Byrne (B Kavanagh 87), Finn (c) (Lafferty 79); Greene.
BOHEMIANS: Talbot; Pender (c), Cornwall, Finnerty, Leahy; Grant, Buckley, Levingston (Ward 88), Tierney (Wade-Slater 58); Mandroiu; Wright.
Referee: R Hennessy