Shamrock Rovers crowned champions without kicking a ball

Derry City manager Ruaidhri Higgins
Derry City manager Ruaidhri Higgins

Airtricity Irish Premier Division: Sligo Rovers 0 Derry City 0

SHAMROCK Rovers were crowned Premier Division champions despite not kicking a ball, as their nearest challengers Derry City, played out a drab scoreless draw at Sligo Rovers.

With two games remaining Stephen Bradley's side sit seven points clear at the top of the table ahead of Sunday's home encounter against Derry.

The Brandywell men were disappointing and never really got going at the Showgrounds, however on a slightly positive note for the Foylesiders, the point secured second place and European football for next season.

The Candystripes rang the changes from the side which drew with Shelbourne, with Ciaran Coll, Joe Thomson, Sadoi Diallo, Ryan Graydon and Cian Kavanagh all coming into the starting line-up.

Derry had half a chance after just 97 seconds as Will Patching's clever clipped pass released Thomson, but his close range flick was saved by the unrushing Rovers keeper Richard Brush.

Thomson went close again minutes later, this time the midfielder's 25 yard pile driver, flashed just past Brush's left hand post.

City should have broken the deadlock on 20 minutes as Thomson's glancing header found Ryan Graydon, but after running at the Rovers defence, the winger's left footed strike from just inside the box was straight at Brush.

Just before the half-hour mark Derry keeper Brian Maher was called into action twice in quick succession when he firstly parried away Adam McDonnell's 20 yard free-kick and after the home side got the ball back into the box Aidan Keena's close range side footed effort was kept out by the Derry number one.

Soon after Keena was again denied by Maher, this time his low left footed strike from 20 yards was pushed away by the Ireland U21 international.

Derry missed a golden chance on 55 minutes as Cian Kanavagh somehow fired wide from close range, after Patching's free-kick had fallen kindly to him inside the six yard box.

Ruaidhri Higgins made two positive changes on the hour mark bringing on Michael Duffy and Jamie McGonigle for Thomson and Kavanagh respectively.

The change nearly worked a treat on 65 minutes as Ronan Boyce's right wing cross found McGonigle, but the ex-Coleraine man's glancing header was well saved at the second attempt by Brush.

In the closing stages McGonigle's shot on the turn from the edge of the box was well held by a diving Brush.

Right at the death Rovers should have won the points as substitute Karl O'Sullivan found fellow sub Max Mata, but the striker from close range fired wide with the goal at his mercy.

Sligo Rovers: Brush, Banks, Blaney (Clancy 78), Fitzgerald, Keena, Liivak (Mata 57), McDonnell, Burton (Bolger 72), Kirk, Pijanker, Barlow (O'Sullivan HT).

Derry City: Maher, Boyce (McEneff 81), Connolly, McJannet, Coll (Lafferty 81); Diallo, Dummigan, Thomson (McGonigle 63); Patching (McEleney 81), C Kavanagh (Duffy 63), Graydon.

Referee: Neil Doyle (Dublin).