By Killian McHale

Shamrock Rovers returned to winning ways on Friday night, with a dominant display in Inchicore against St. Patrick’s Athletic defeating Tim Clancy’s side by two goals to nil in front of a packed-out Richmond Park.

Stephen Bradley made four changes to his side after last Friday’s 2-2 draw against Shelbourne in Tallaght, with Roberto Lopes, Gary O’Neill, Trevor Clarke & Johnny Kenny all returning to the starting eleven.

It took a while for both sides to settle into the game, with Chris Forrester forcing the Rovers defence to be on their toes early on before Gary O’Neill fired an effort over Dean Lyness’ crossbar just before the ten-minute mark.

Both sides continued to share chances – with Graham Burke & Jake Mulraney going close for each side – before Rovers eventually found the breakthrough after 20 minutes.

A lofted through-ball by Lee Grace from the centre of midfield found Johnny Kenny who – on his first touch – fired beyond Lyness at his near post from the edge of the box to give the Hoops the lead in front of the 1,150 travelling Hoops.

Rovers came inches away from doubling their lead on the half-hour mark when Dan Cleary glanced just wide from an ever-dangerous Jack Byrne set-piece delivery before Chris Forrester had an effort of his own flash just wide of Alan Mannus goal at the other end of the pitch shortly after.

Neither keeper was forced into much action in the first half, as Rovers found themselves leading by a goal-to-nil at the break.

Dean Lyness produced a stunning double-save just before the hour-mark, first saving from Jack Byrne at his near post, before reacting quickly to deny a Johnny Kenny header from inside the six-yard box to keep the score down to a sole goal.

However, just ten minutes later, all Lyness’ hard work was undone when Trevor Clarke produced a moment of real quality to double the Hoops’ lead. The Rovers left-back picked up a loose ball just inside the Pat’s half, before running beyond the Pat’s midfield and launching an unstoppable effort from 25 yards into the top-right corner of Lyness’ goal to send the Rovers away end into raptures. Clarke’s first of the season following his loan move back to Tallaght in the off-season.

Rovers looked to make it three just five minutes later, when Neil Farrugia raced down the right-wing, before finding Graham Burke inside the penalty area who turned and shot quickly, forcing Lyness to get down low once again to make a smart save at his right-hand post.

Neither side created any real goal-scoring chances in the final 15 minutes of the game, as Stephen Bradley’s side picked up another important three points away from home

Rovers return to Tallaght next Friday (29th April), welcoming Sligo Rovers to our D24 home, with kick-off at the usual time of 8 pm.

Shamrock Rovers: Mannus; Cleary, Lopes ©, Grace; Farrugia, O’Neill (90’ Nugent), Poom, Clarke (80’ Finn); Byrne (90’ Noonan), Kenny (80’ Greene), Burke (90’ Towell).

Shamrock Rovers Unused Substitutes: Leon Pohls (GK), Sean Hoare, Justin Ferizaj, Gideon Tetteh.

St. Patrick’s Athletic: Lyness; Curtis, McGrath, Lewis, Breslin ©; Lennon, Forrester, Murphy (73’ Tillemans); Mulraney (87’ Sjoberg), E.Doyle (72’ M.Doyle), McClellend (72’ Carty).

St. Patrick’s Athletic Unused Substitutes: David Odumosu (GK), Serge Atakayi, Vladislav Kreida, Ben McCormack, Mason Melia.

Attendance: 5,011.