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Looking to rebound from their first defeat in more than two months, Shamrock Rovers welcomed Shelbourne to the Tallaght Stadium for their League of Ireland Premier Division clash on Friday. Shamrock Rovers moved eight points clear at the top of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division following their 2-0 win over Shelbourne at the Tallaght Stadium. A fireworks display in the stands was followed by early fireworks on the pitch, with a strike from Richie Towell just 66 seconds later setting up a comfortable 2-0 win over Shelbourne in the latest edition of the Airtricity League Dublin Derby.

Derry City moved back into first division football in the top flight with a brilliant 1-0 win on the road at Galway United. As for Derry City, after their recent run of results, it is all but confident that Derry City will be left with little hope of challenging for a premier division league title. Coming into the match with a two-point deficit to Galway United, Derry City knew that they needed a response, and it was provided.

Given Shelbourne went into the last weekend’s game still winless in Tolka Park and only two points clear of danger, the past eight days could not have gone much better. However, a win on Friday would have been challenging for Shelbourne, with Shelbourne failing to win any of their past eight competitive meetings with Shamrock Rovers, including six losses. What was a seven-point advantage going into this walk-in at Shelbourne is now an eight-point lead.

Despite this defeat, nearest challengers Shamrock Rovers and Derry City suffered their third defeat in succession. Steven Bradley’s side is still clinging to their eight point lead at the top of the table at the halfway point. Damien Duff‘s Shelf, who is still waiting for some comfort at home, now take only one point from five games in Drumcondra this season. Shamrock Rovers beat Damien Duffs Shelbourne 2-0 at Tallaght Stadium, whilst Derry City was held to a 2-2 draw at the Ryan McBride Stadium.

The fact that a fit Dundalk has one game in hand over Shamrock Rovers gives neutrals a bit of hope that the title race will not be a march with half of the season remaining. Yes, Rovers have the European campaign to deal with over the summer months. Still, given their depth of personnel and quality, there is little indication that they will relent in their unrelenting pursuit of a third consecutive League title. Rovers became the first Irish team to qualify for the group stages of any of Europe’s two major competitions by defeating Partizan Belgrade in the knockout phase of the Europa League on 26 August 2011.