The LUAS Derby

Article published in Hoops Scene 4 September 2009 Issue (Shamrock Rovers v Saint Patrick’s Athletic)

There is the Old Firm, Merseyside, Superclassico, Flu/Fla derbies to name but a few. Well tonight it seems the new phrase being used for our game with Saint Patrick’s Athletic is the LUAS derby. It is the LUAS Red Line that runs out to Tallaght and so Saint Pat’s fans wearing their red jerseys and scarves matched the colour of the LUAS line on their way here this evening. As Rovers fans we don’t mind as most people tend to call it the Tallaght Line rather than Red Line anyway. It is a great facility for both the Hoops faithful and any away fans being deposited at the terminus of the line for a game being just 500 m away from the stadium. For games at Saint Pat’s it is a 10 minute walk from either the Drimnagh or Goldenbridge stops so it means that Pats and Rovers are separated by just nine LUAS stops.

With the newly christened LUAS derby, what other derbies are around for Rovers? We overcame UCD in the FAI Cup last month but you could hardly have called it a charged derby win. Even though it is probably the closest other club to Milltown it was not a derby game to ever excite the passion of the Rovers and small number of UCD fans. For the past couple of seasons Rovers have had two clubs to play derbies against with Saint Pat’s and Bohs providing the opposition. In our formative years our closest rivals were Shelbourne, who were also founded in Ringsend, until Rovers’ move to Milltown in the 1920’s. 2005 is the last time the Rovers/Shels derby was played. Subsequently Rovers spent 2006 in the First Division winning it at the first time of asking just as Shelbourne could only just about get a First Division licence with their club’s finances imploding and Shels have spent the last three years down in the First Division.

The big rivalry for Rovers in the past though came from Drumcondra. It was the first northside/southside rivalry for Rovers with the very successful Drums side playing out of Tolka Park. In the 1950’s massive attendances would be regular when the two sides went head to head. In the early 70’s with Drums deep in debt and with an unsuccessful team they were subsumed into Home Farm who continued the unsuccessful theme and so the big derby for Rovers became the one against another northside club, Bohemian FC.

The demise of Drums coincided with the emergence of a new Bohs who left their amateur status behind, in 1969, to embrace the world of (semi) professionalism. Their league championship drought which started in 1936 was ended in 1975 and Bohs went on to collect another league title, an FAI Cup and a couple of League Cups in the 70s. This was during a real barren period for the Hoops who’s only honour in the 70s was a single solitary FAI Cup picked up in 1978. So the Bohs faithful were able to lord it over their hooped rivals during this time. Like football in the UK in the 1970s, the off field action was sometimes more cut and thrust than on the pitch and the rivalry off the pitch sadly stepped over the mark of acceptable behaviour which has no doubt fuelled the rivalry then and even now. The ascendancy in the rivalry switched back to Rovers in the 80s with our four in a row but the last decade has seen a very successful Bohs side as Rovers wandered in the wilderness in between Milltown and Tallaght. This season both sides are going head to head to pick up another title (Rovers’ 17th) and Bohs’ (11th).

The rivalry with Saint Pat’s has not been as intense. Pats played home games in Phoenix Park, Richmond Park, Chapleizod, Dalymount Park and even Milltown and on joining the league picked up their first league title in 1952, going on to claim three that decade. In 1960, they returned to Richmond Park and claimed their second and last FAI Cup win the following year. A long unsuccessful period meant that the derby was never going to be a charged affair but all that changed in the 1990s when Saint Pat’s under manager Brian Kerr won three league titles.

When Rovers were playing in the First Division in 2006, we thought that there would be no derby games to play (with Kildare County being our nearest ‘rivals’) but the FAI Cup was to present two such games. The third round was a very eventful FAI Cup tie. Rovers were drawn at home with Bohs and the first game ended in a draw so Bohs were overwhelming favourites to beat a very young Rovers team in the replay in Dalymount. However, the Hoops side were not to be overawed scoring on half time and then Barry Murphy carried out the game defining moment with a penalty save against Bohs player manager Gareth Farrelly (who resigned after the defeat). Rovers’ manager at the time Pat Scully was sent to the stands by the referee and gleefully celebrated in the Main Stand when David Cassidy got his and Rovers’ second.

The semi-final will be remembered more fondly by our visitors tonight. Rovers’ best moment was after a mere 4 minutes when Padraig Amond hit the Pats post but Pats got the first goal and then former Hoop Trevor Molley put things out of Rovers’ grasp late in the game to qualify for the final (which they lost).

This season we’ve played three derbies with Saint Pat’s to date and have claimed a win in each derby. Ignoring a very poor recent record at Richmond Park where we hadn’t won against Pats since 2004, Rovers picked up a 1-0 League Cup win and then a 2-1 League win in Inchicore. In the first league derby here in Tallaght Stadium, Rovers claimed a 2-0 win with Gary Twigg getting two second half goals. Tonight the capacity has nearly doubled from that first derby. It should mean a more sizeable away support from Pat’s who will look out on the new stand which has the newly located singing section and the SRFC Ultras. We will have to wait the 90 minutes to see which set of supporters will be the happiest on their journey home this evening on the LUAS.

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