Padraig Amond scored the only goal in Shamrock Rovers win over defending champions Bohemians last night to move the Hoops two points clear from Bohs at the top of the Eircom Premier League with only six games to go in this seasons campaign.
The match was a tight, tense affair that only really came to life in the final 10 minutes after Rovers had taken the lead.
The 80th minute goal came from a sloppy piece of defending when Ken Oman needlessly took Amond down midway through the Bohs half. The resulting free kick from Sean O'Connor was headed back across the goal by Craig Sives before Amond hooked the ball past Murphy in the Bohs goal via fortuitous deflection.
Amond had only been on the pitch for thre minutes after replacing Stephen Bradley as Rovers manager, Michael O'Neill, went for the win. However, the masterstroke substitution was almost undone in the 87th minute when Pat O'Sullivan took down the ex-Wolves striker Glen Crowe as he was about to pull the trigger.
Tallaght native Jason Byrne stepped up to take the penalty in front of the baying Rovers fans, but his terrible effort when high and wide without Northern Ireland international 'keeper Alan Mannus having to make the save.
O'Sullivan then saw red as he shook his fist in the referees face following the penalty miss, Pat Kelly dealing with the situation the only way he could have such were O'Sullivan's actions.
10-man Rovers then saw out the final three minutes before leaving the pitch to rapturous applause from the fanatical home support.
This match had been building for weeks, with Rovers and Bohs both enjoying a good run of form, this game between the country's two best teams was always going to have a major say in where the league title will resy this year.
With the game having been sold out for weeks, the atmosphere was white hot as the two teams took to the pitch.
The occasion though seemed to get to many of the players on show from both teams and the game quickly descended into a scrappy affair as neither side had time to dwell on the ball before a crunching tackle came in.
Both midfield's cancelled each other out completely. Bohs manager Pat Fenlon missing the best midfielder in the country's influence, Gary Deegan, as they looked to get on top of the dogged Rovers.
The best chance of the first half fell to Rovers top scorer, Gary Twigg, who latched onto an O'Sullivan through ball before seeing his chipped effort glide agonisingly past the far post with Murphy stranded in the Bohs box.
Moments later Bohs had their only real chance of the half after Murphy's long throw sent Mark Rossiter scampering free. His crisp pass found Glenn Cronin free in plenty of space and his excellent through ball put Byrne clear on goal before the ex-Cardiff mans control let him down badly.
Bohs clearly missed Cillian Brennan, Anto Murphy, and Deegan as they struggled to create any chance of substance and normal service soon resumed as Shane Robinson's and Stephen Rice's stranglehold on continued.
Bohs were slightly the better side in the second half, but as in the first half chances were scarce.
Paddy Madden, ploughing a lone furrow up front for Bohs continued to impress but the best he could attempt at goal were only half chances. Rovers went close too, with efforts from Sives and Amond before they eventually took the lead.
The win is a monumental one for the team from Tallaght. Little over four years ago, Rovers were on the verge of going out of existence only for their fans to band together and buy the club.
And now they sit on top of the Premier League in front of sell out crowds every week and are being hailed as the ideal model on how to run a club in Ireland. Michael O'Neill has done very well in his first season as manager and now Rovers sit on the verges of possible participation in the Champions League.
What a difference a few years make.
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