Dundalk 0 Shamrock Rovers 1: Less than 72 hours after crashing out of Europe, Shamrock Rovers took a significant step towards a return to the Europa League next season with a first league win over Dundalk at Oriel Park in almost six years — and put another dent into any lingering hopes the champions may have had of catching Cork City.
Gary Shaw’s fifth minute strike ensured the Hoops won away to the champions for the first time since September 3, 2011 and afterwards manager Stephen Bradley declared it a huge step towards cementing third place.
“I always felt that Dundalk and Cork were that bit too far ahead,” said Bradley. “We still have a lot to play for though and we showed today we’re ready to compete with the top teams.”
Bradley also said he was trying to bring in “a few” new faces before the end of the deadline with discussions ongoing with players from England, Scotland, and Ireland.
Rovers got off to a dream start when Shaw fired them ahead after five minutes. The former Longford Town striker showed great footwork to spin away from Brian Gartland to collect Ryan Connolly’s pass before steering a shot past Gary Rogers to the left-hand corner of the net.
The visitors had goalkeeper Tomer Chencinski to thank for keeping them on level terms moments before that, however, as he pushed a Dylan Connolly shot wide after just 32 seconds after the winger burst in from the right.
Dundalk, who had been in European action away to Rosenborg last week, twice went close to an equaliser after Shaw’s breakthrough with Michael Duffy curling a shot wide on 19 minutes before David McMillan shot wide from a neat Connolly back heel five minutes later. Shaw then had a golden chance to double his side’s advantage nine minutes later when a loose header from Gartland dropped to him at the edge of the box but he failed to get any sort of purchase on the shot.
Dundalk had a chance of their own on 37 minutes when Connolly’s cross from the right was met by the inrushing Paddy Barrett who could only fire wide. It was mainly the visitors who threatened in the second half with Rogers having to save a Dave McAllister header from Miele’s corner on 55 minutes before Miele had a shot tipped over eight minutes later.
Dundalk’s best chance came in the first minute of stoppage time but sub Thomas Stewart fired over.
“Great result! Proud of the lads, and what an atmosphere from our fans! Incredible! Proud to be part of @ShamrockRovers. We push on! #hoops. Only damper is some of the racist @DundalkFC fans. Absolutely disgusting. Heckling is one thing, being racist is something else #stopracism.”
Rogers; Hoare, Gartland, Barrett, Massey; Connolly (Mountney 75), O’Donnell, Benson, Duffy (Kilduff 77); McGrath (Stewart 60); McMillan.
Chencinski; Madden, Webster, Lopes, Byrne; Clarke (Bone 86), Connolly, McAllister, Miele; Burke (Boyd 89); Shaw (O’Connor 94).
Rob Rogers (Dublin).
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