Shamrock Rovers 0, Derry City 2
DERRY CITY took a giant step towards qualification for the Europa League with a precious victory over Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght Stadium.
Aaron McEneff rifled in his 10th goal of the season with a 64th minute strike - his third against the Hoops this season!
And as Rovers pressed for an equaliser in second half stoppage time, Barry McNamee netted with a sublime lob from 40 yards as City moved EIGHT points clear of the Hoops.
It was City's fourth straight win in the league, a fourth clean sheet but this victory will certainly be the sweetest as they hold the upper hand in the race for third place.
Kenny Shiels' troops have taken NINE points from nine off their biggest rivals for that third automatic European spot as they remain in the driving seat going into the final straight.
Derry had survived a barrage of pressure at the start of the second half but once McEneff broke the deadlock, they closed the game out superbly before McNamee sealed the win late on.
There were two changes to the team which started against Limerick last week but the big talking point when the teamsheets emerged was Dean Jarvis' omission from the starting X1 for the first time this season.
Jarvis, who dropped to the bench, was replaced at left-back by Ben Doherty - scorer of City's third goal against Limerick last Sunday.
Teenage midfielder, Rory Holden was the other change as he came in as a direct replacement for the suspended Nicky Low.
New signing, Josef Dolny was named on the bench while Josh Daniels was a notable absentee having announced he had left the club after five years at Brandywell.
As for Rovers, new signing from Galway United, Lee Grace came straight into the team for his debut, replacing the injured Roberto Lopes while Ryan Connolly dropped to the bench to accommodate Ronan Finn's return.
The Rovers supporters began a minute's applause in the fifth minute in memory of the late Derry City skipper, Ryan McBride who netted the winning goal on the Candy Stripes' last visit to the Tallaght Stadium last April.
Rovers had the first attempt on goal on eight minutes when Schubert was caught in possession and Graham Burke drove forward before firing his shot over the bar from 25 yards.
The Hoops midfielder then flashed a shot on the half volley well wide of the mark from the edge of the area on 20 minutes.
Brandon Miele did brilliantly to make space for himself as he raced into the penalty area but his left-footed shot went wide of the net on 22 minutes.
Moments later Derry created their first chance when Ronan Curtis whipped in his cross from the right and Rory Patterson's glancing header went across goal and wide.
Derry were warming to the occasion and Curtis tried his luck after a neat one-two with Schubert on the edge of the box but his low strike was saved by Tomer Chencinski.
Burke tried his luck with a free kick from 25 yards 10 minutes before the break but his left footed effort sailed harmlessly over the crossbar.
The game sparked into life in the final five minutes of the half with chances at either end.
Aaron McEneff came so close to catching out Rovers keeper, Chencinski who was set for a cross from a free kick but he managed to get across his goalmouth and get a hand to keep out the shot at the near post.
Rovers midfielder, McAllister then fizzed a powerful shot just wide of the target with Gerard Doherty at full stretch at the other end.
And Derry survived a big chance on 43 minutes when Clarke raced behind the City defence. The winger found Burke who pulled it back for Finn and his strike from 12 yards shaved the outside of the far post.
The Hoops controlled proceedings during the opening 15 minutes of the second half and Miele came close with an ambitious effort before Burke's deflected shot from distance bounced just wide of the far post.
For all of the Rovers pressure Derry hit the front against the run of play on 64 minutes when the ball broke to McEneff and he rifled his shot into the bottom corner.
Patterson came close to netting a second for the visitors on 72 minutes but his shot was deflected behind by Luke Byrne.
Miele linked up well with Clarke inside the Derry box and the latter sent his shot agonisingly wide of the far post as Rovers desperately went in search for an equaliser.
City were fortunate to maintain their lead on 90 minutes when Clarke's strike deflected off the boot of Gary Shaw and onto the post before City cleared.
With Rovers pressing for the equaliser, Derry broke quickly and McNamee send a stunning lob over the head of Chencinski, who was in no man's land, and into the net to secure a second win at the South Dublin venue this season. It was a huge psychological blow for Stephen Bradley's men who must hope for a sizeable collapse from City in the final eight league fixtures of the season.
Shamrock Rovers: Tomer Chencinski; Simon Madden, Lee Grace, David Webster, Luke Byrne (Sean Boyd 83); Brandon Miele, David McAllister (Michael O'Connor 87), Graham Burke, Trevor Clarke; Ronan Finn; Gary Shaw; Subs Not Used - K. Horgan, D. Carpenter, R. Connolly, A. Bolger, J. Doona.
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Conor McDermott, Darren Cole, Aaron Barry, Ben Doherty (Harry Monaghan 65); Lukas Schubert (Nathan Boyle 81), Rory Holden (Dean Jarvis 57), Aaron McEneff, Ronan Curtis; Barry McNamee; Rory Patterson; Subs Not Used - E. Grimes, C. Farren, J. Dolny, E. Toal.
Referee - Robert Harvey.