Derry City lost their second Airtricity League Premier Division fixture in seven days when theywent down 2-1 to Shamrock Rovers in the Tallaght Stadium on Friday evening.
Dublin has been more than generous to the Candy Stripes this season but Friday was to be one of the nights they would leave the capital empty handed.
Trevor Coly’s men took the lead in the first half when Sean O’Connor stroked the ball past Gerard Doherty from distance.
The Candy Stripes equalised four minutes later when Michael Rafter converted a penalty after team mate and debutante Eoghan Osborne was brought down inside the Rovers area by former Derry City player Billy Dennehy.
O’Connor secured all three points for the home side when he added both his and his team’s second in the 57th minute.
“It’s always disappointing to lose a game but there’s still plenty of football to be played between now and the end of the season,” said Derry City boss Declan Devine yesterday afternoon.
“If someone had have said to me at the start of the year that at this stage of the season we would be sitting second in the league and only three points behind the leaders, I would have taken the hand of them - we are in a good position, we just have to stay positive,” he insisted.
Derry lost out at home to title-chasing Dundalk F.C. at the Brandywell last Friday. The trip to Tallaght was an opportunity to get back to winning ways but not only that - had they won, they would have joined St. Patrick’s Athletic at the top of the table.
“I’ll be at the St. Patrick’s Athletic v Sligo Rovers game on Sunday - it’s a big game. The top teams will take points off one another before the end of the season but, like I said, we have to remain positive and continue on with the philosophy we’ve been championing all season and that is you get the same amount of points for beating the bottom team as you do for beating the top team,” he added.
Derry had a great chance to take the lead in the opening few minutes of Friday’s game when Barry McNamee threaded a pass through to team mate Patrick Kavanagh who fired his shot wide of Richard Brush’s post.
One-time Candy Stripe Dennehy had a chance to break the deadlock in the 20th minute when Sean O’Connor found him with a pass into the Derry area. Dennehy could have done better but sadly for the home team he failed to test Gerard Doherty in the Derry goal.
O’Connor was just warming up for what was to come. Soon after linking with Dennehy he provided a cross for James Chambers but the midfielder sent his close range header over the crossbar.
Minutes before the Hoops took the lead, Ronan Finn tested Doherty with a stinging drive from outside the box but the Creggan-born netminder was more than a match for the shot.
Rovers took the lead in the 37th minute when Barry Molloy headed the ball straight into the path of O’Connor. The winger fired the ball into the back of the net from 25 yards out - a superb volley.
Derry equalised in the opening minutes of the second half when Dennehy brought down Osborne inside the area. Referee Padraigh Sutton pointed straight at the spot and Michael Rafter blasted past Brush.
But O’Connor regained the lead for Rovers three minutes later when he cut in from the right and went past Osborne before curling the ball past Doherty.
Next up for the Candy Stripes is Trabzonspor in the second qualifying round for the 2013/14 Europa League in the Hüseyin Avni Aker Stadium on Thursday. Kick-off 7.30pm.
SHAMROCK ROVERS: Richard Brush; Pat Sullivan, Derek Foran, Ken Oman, Conor Powell; James Chambers (Shane Robinson 63), Stephen Rice, Ronan Finn; Sean O’Connor (Gary McCabe 84), Billy Dennehy; Eamon Zayed (Karl Sheppard 57)
Subs not used: Conor Winn (GK), Jason McGuinness, Danny Ledwith, Mark Quigley.
DERRY CITY: Gerard Doherty; Simon Madden, Stewrt Greacen, Shane McEleney, Eoghan Osborne; Ruaidhri Higgins (Ryan Curran 71), Barry Molloy, Patrick Kavanagh (Mark Griffin 78), Barry McNamee; Michael Duffy, Michael Rafter (David McDaid 63)
Subs not used: Eugene Ferry (GK), Ryan McBride, Tony McNamee.
Referee: Mr. Padraigh Sutton.