Derry City 3 Shamrock Rovers 1: A brace of stunning strikes from Derry City’s Aaron McEneff put this game out of the reach of Shamrock Rovers at Maginn Park.
It was a deserved win for Kenny Shiels’ men who produced a superb second-half performance but had to wait until the 93rd minute to confirm victory from the penalty spot.
Rovers will, no doubt, point to a controversial incident in the 76th minute when denied an equaliser after Ronan Finn appeared to head the ball home from close range and while referee Ben Connolly had pointed to the centre circle, one of his assistants had raised a flag.
Derry actually got off to a flying start, breaking the deadlock after just four minutes. Nathan Boyle played a deep cross into the danger area and with the Rovers defence failing to clear, Lukas Schubert played the ball back into the path of McEneff who lashed the ball home from 20 yards, a superb finish.
Within 60 seconds the home side were back on the attack, Boyle’s low effort smothered by Tomer Chencinski.
Schubert could so easily have doubled Derry’s lead in the 8th minute but his shot from 18 yards sailed wide.
Rovers got back into the game in the 21st minute. Following a free-kick, Brandon Miele scooped the ball into the penalty area, Gary Shaw headed it down, and the advancing Graham Burke drove it high into the net as the Derry defence froze.
Derry had the final say of the first half when moving back into the driving seat in the 44th minute with a timely strike.
Having worked the ball forward on the left wing. Schubert carried it into the box before flashing the ball low across the six-yard box and the alert Barry McNamee displayed great determination to slide in an guide the ball home.
That strike certainly boosted confidence levels in the home dressing room as Derry threatened again during the opening minute of the second half.
A corner from McEneff found the head of Dean Jarvis and his effort was palmed clear by Chencinski before the keeper smothered the ball on the ground.
Rovers’ Canadian keeper pulled off a spectacular save in the 54th minute to deny Ronan Curtis as Derry attempted to end the game as a contest.
With the attendance on their toes, the win was confirmed in the 94th minute when Curtis was brought down to earth inside the area by substitute, Seann Heaney and McEneff drove the ball low into the corner.
Doherty; McDermott, Barry, Jarvis (Doherty, 81); Schubert (Daniels, 81), Monaghan, Low, McEneff, Curtis (Timlin, 94); McNamee; Boyle.
Chencinski; Madden, Lopes (Heaney, 68), Webster, Byrne; McAllister, Finn; Clarke (Meenan, 62), Burke (O’Connor, 81), Miele; Shaw.
B Connolly (Dublin)
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved