Shamrock Rovers defeated Dublin rivals St Patrick's Athletic to progress to the semi-final of the FAI Cup with two well-taken first-half goals. Ronan Finn bagged the first with a superb header, before captain Shane Robinson sealed the tie with an inventive volley.
Despite struggling to hold on to possession early on it was the away side that broke the deadlock in the 15th minute. Conor Powell’s cross from the left was met by winger Ronan Finn, whose tidy looping header left the diving Brendan Clarke with little chance.
Rovers began to impose themselves on the game and a quick counter-attack involving Thomas Stewart and Gary McCabe left Finn free in the box once again. However, Ian Bermingham prevented Pats from going further behind as he made a despairing but well-timed tackle on the Hoops midfielder.
Rovers worked hard off the ball, putting pressure on the man with in possession, as Liam Buckley’s side struggled to get their normal fluid passing game going.
It was opportunistic piece of skill from Shane Robinson that doubled the visitor’s lead. A looping free-kick was knocked down by Ken Oman. Robinson had his back to goal and was slipping but still managed to hit a volley into the bottom corner of the net.
Killian Brennan and Shane McFaul hobbled off the pitch during the first half to add more misery to pretty awful half for the home side.
St. Pat's came out much stronger after the break. It wasn’t long before they tested Barry Murphy. The former Pat's keeper was up to the challenge, getting a strong hand to a rasping long-range effort from Ger O’Brien and then diving low to prevent John Russell’s strike.
At the other end Brendan Clarke was also in good form. He made an acrobatic save to push the ball onto the crossbar before charging out to make a clearance moments later.
The second period was more notable for the nasty challenges and ensuing scraps that cropped up over and over again. Tempers reached boiling point with two red cards handed out in quick succession. Greg Bolger got his second yellow in somewhat controversial circumstances, as Gary McCabe went down easily, while Pat Sullivan followed shortly after, picking up a second booking for a foul on John Russell.
Shamrock Rovers' terrific form continues as they prepare themselves for the EA Sports final at the Tallaght Stadium next weekend. Pat’s will now be focused on the top of the table tie with Dundalk, where they will have to do without the suspended Bolger, while Liam Buckley will closely monitor the fitness of fellow midfielders Brennan and McFaul.