Wednesday 22 November 2017

Rover and rout

Shamrock Rovers 3-0 Cork City

Damien Duff shakes hands with Shamrock Rovers mascot 'Hooperman' at the end of his debut for the Hoops against Cork City at Tallaght Stadium last night
Damien Duff shakes hands with Shamrock Rovers mascot 'Hooperman' at the end of his debut for the Hoops against Cork City at Tallaght Stadium last night
Shamrock Rovers' Danny North celebrates with team-mate Mikey Drennan after scoring his side's second goal

Hoops destroy City on Duff’s debut

Is there anything that can improve on a convincing home win over one of your main rivals in the title race?

For Shamrock Rovers fans, the sight of former Ireland man Damien Duff coming off the bench for his debut in League of Ireland football - 18 years after he played his first Premier League game in England - was just another coat of gloss on an already pleasing piece of work as they swept past Cork City with a 3-0 win.

Before last night, Rovers had managed just one win from six games against the top three sides but they comfortably dealt with a Cork side who have been ensconced in second place for months now, and while catching league leaders Dundalk is a very big ask - the champions showed their power with a convincing win over St Pat's last night - Rovers can now target a top-two finish.

And although Duff's arrival is a powerful weapon for manager Pat Fenlon for a key phase of the season, the player Duff replaced - Brandon Miele - shows that, whatever about the veterans, the kids are also alright as the 21-year-old scored his side's third goal before being replaced by Duffer.

Despite what was at stake for the away side, there was a lack of urgency from City as the hosts dominated from the off, and it was no real surprise when Rovers took the lead through Brennan's goal.

City needed a save from keeper Mark McNulty to keep out a Max Blanchard header on 23 minutes while in the 16th minute a shot by Brennan was deflected off the post.

Cork could have sneaked a lead goal on 27 minutes when Steven Beattie picked up on a slack ball from Gary McCabe but Beattie failed to hit the target.


And that spell of Rovers domination bore fruit nine minutes before half-time when Brennan netted his second league goal of the season, a well-placed header from Luke Byrne's cross.

Cork had offered very little and while a header from Bennett four minutes into the second half needed a save from keeper Barry Murphy, an off-colour City posed no major threat, former Hoop Karl Sheppard a frustrated figure.

And it was no real surprise when Rovers scored again.

Danny North did the damage on 56 minutes, profiting from some slack defending to power a diving header past McNulty from a Mikey Drennan cross.

Cork brought ex-Ireland man Colin Healy off the bench to shore things up but they were wide open again two minutes from time when Miele played a one-two with Drennan and finished well.

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