Shamrock Rovers 3 – 2 Bray Wanderers
The starting line-ups for both sides indicated straight away we were going to be in for one heck of a game and we were not to be disappointed. From a Hoops viewpoint in particular the team was exceptionally strong with Aaron Bolger, Sam Bone, Sean Boyd, Michael O’Connor and Dean Dillon all on from the beginning.
Bray threatened in the 6th minute when Shane Heffernan took a free from a dangerous spot but nothing came from it. A mistake by former Rovers’ player Luke Rossiter, when he mishit the ball, allowed winger Adam Doyle to take possession and beat a number of defenders as he whizzed his way into the box to unleash a shot that crossed the line to put the Hoops ahead.
In the 21st minute Boyd had a long-range shot tipped over the bar by Bray ‘keeper Malachy Doyle but when the Wanderers defence failed to clear from the corner O’Connor simply slotted the ball along the ground and into the back of the net to make it 2-0.
On either side of this Bray had been rewarded dangerous free kicks close to the Rovers box but couldn’t make them count. They did however get one back in the 29th minute when Dion Agbonze delivered the ball in from the left, Rovers failed to clear and Luke Clucas got a touch to beat Lucas Gratzer to make it 2-1.
Rovers were rampant after that though with Dean Dillon striking the upright and Sam Bone hitting a super shot but over the bar. They went further ahead though in the 41st minute when Dillon won the ball on the left touchline and played it on to Doyle; the winger carried it up to the corner before turning back out and passing to Dillon who came quickly up in support and the striker drove the ball all the way across to the far corner of the net to make it 3-1.
The second half began with a flurry but the Hoops looked particularly strong. They enjoyed possession of about 60/40 as the visitors struggled to get out of their half. It seemed almost unbelievable then that in the 61st minute Bray got a further goal to make it 3-2.
A quick breakaway after the Hoops had forced two corners in succession saw Wanderers awarded a penalty which Heffernan successfully converted.
Soon after that Rovers made a triple substitution bringing on Evan White, Luke Kiely and Emmanuel Lawal for Bone, O’Connor and Boyd. The game changed after that as Bray came more into it but the Hoops were defending their lead and weren’t going to commit themselves too much in the Bray half regardless of the substitutions.
The ‘Seagulls’ fought gallantly to get the equaliser but the Hoops gave little away at the back. It was a great game and Rovers were worthy winners.
Shamrock Rovers: 1. Luca Gratzer; 16. Cian Collins, 4. Sam Bone, 15. Darragh Gibbons, 3. Conor Gleeson; 8. Harry Cornally ©, 21. Aaron Bolger, 11. Adam Doyle, 19. Dean Dillon, 18. Sean Boyd; 9. Michael O’Connor.
Substitutes: 30. Kalvin Geraghty (for Gratzer 79 mins), 22. Evan White (for Bone 69 mins), 17. Shane Stokes, 7. Emmanuel Lawal (for Boyd 69 mins), 10. Luke Kiely (for O’Connor 69 mins).
Match Report and photos by Robert Goggins