Shamrock Rovers have lost for the second time in ten days with an aggregate score of 1-8; this time in the Setanta Sports Cup semi-final against Derry City at Tallaght Stadium.
With the home side playing with a swirling win in the first-half and in freezing conditions, the game was turned on its head inside the opening 12 minutes. The defending champion’s new goalkeeper; Reyaad Pieterse came charging out of his goal, before lunging at the advancing David McDaid.
There were doubts as to whether the Derry man might have been offside. Having blown for a penalty; referee Alan Kelly was left with a big decision. He chose to show the netminder a red card which will definitely be the main talking point to come from the game. Would a defender have recovered to clear the ball? Was the Derry man offside? It was certainly a contentious decision.
Following a delay of 2-3 minutes; sub ‘keeper Osscar Jannson came on to the pitch with striker Daryl Kavanagh being sacrificed for the home side, leaving Gary Twigg to lead the Rovers’ line on his own.
The most pertinent matter for Rovers though at that stage was facing a penalty from the visitors. McDaid stood up to take it; Jansson got down well to save it but Derry captain Kevin Deery was first to react to force the ball into an unguarded net. Shamrock Rovers 0-1 Derry
Such was the strength of the wind that both sides found it very difficult to control the ball. The gail force conditions are also reducing the entertainment value with the wisest course of action being to keep the ball on the floor.
Half-time sees Rovers having competed very well considering their lack of a man but they haven’t created any clear cut chances. Aside from a few through balls (one leading to the penalty) and a fine effort from Stephen McLaughlin being forced over the bar by sub ‘keeper Jannson, Derry haven’t created much either in the opening 45 minutes.
Jannson did very well to push a 30 yard McLaughlin piledriver over the crossbar a minute after the re-start with the visitors adopting a “shoot on sight” policy as they, unlike Rovers, sought to take advantage of the wind at their backs.
That policy paid off within five minutes of the re-start as Patrick McElaney got the ball 35 yards out; held off his man before cracking a 30 piledriver into the right hand corner of Jannson’s net. Rovers 0-2 Derry
Derry continue to dominate with Rovers creating little. Derry are rather toothless however when they get into the home box. Derry have never reached the final of an All-Ireland competition. Rovers push forward to try to get back in the tie and end up being caught on the break with McBride heading home McElaney’s cross five minutes from time. Rovers 0-3 Derry
The tie now appears to be over. With so much pressure and expectation on Shamrock Rovers going into this season; it remains to be seen whether they can live up to those expectations. Though there is a long way to go in this season and this game was arguably decided by one decision; Rovers have much to improve on if they are to come close to living up to those expectations.