For Danny Mandroiu, this was a welcome return to making headlines for the right reasons.
is Tallaght brace brought an end to a Shamrock Rovers losing run of four games which included inglorious exits from Europe and the FAI Cup. Mandroiu really felt the pain of the latter defeat, earning a one-game ban for throwing an object in the general direction of Bohs fans taunting him at Dalymount.
It meant he sat out a worrying reverse away to Finn Harps that raised questions about whether Rovers’ stuttering form would create an unexpected title race.
That’s why this was a very important game for Stephen Bradley’s side and this success coupled with a St Patrick’s Athletic reverse in Sligo leaves the champions three points clear with two games in hand.
In the early minutes, it looked as though Rovers would make light work of this. Mandroiu could have scored on two separate occasions in the opening quarter hour, striking the crossbar with a left-footed shot just minutes after Brian Murphy had kept out his close-range header.
Waterford had set out to match the Hoops’ approach, operating with three at the back with experienced ex-Premier League player Greg Halford reverting to the centre of defence to try and sweep things up.
He also possesses a weapon in the form of a long throw and, after absorbing pressure, Waterford could have nicked an interval lead from that route but Shane Griffin tripped over the ball with the goal gaping.
Anthony Wordsworth then missed a glorious chance from a set-piece, with the natives a tad anxious at half-time.
Rovers stepped it up again from the restart, and their lead goal on the hour mark followed sustained pressure although Waterford contested the awarding of a free for a handball by Eddie Nolan.
Mandroiu curled the ball around an unsatisfactory defensive wall to delight the South Stand faithful – Waterford appealed that Rory Gaffney was offside and affected Murphy’s line of sight.
Marc Bircham introduced the dangerous Junior Quitirna in the aftermath and he threatened to produce a leveller but while Waterford did threaten when they got balls into the box, Rovers were unquestionably the stronger side.
Prior to the breakthrough, the departure of left wing-back Aaron Greene to a head injury caused a reshuffle that saw teenage striker Aidomo Emakhu add pace up top and he impressed again.
Yet the insurance goal was self-inflicted from a Blues perspective with Halford caught on his toes in receiving a Nolan pass with Mandroiu comfortably able to dispossess the 36-year-old before showing he can keep a cool head by expertly placing the ball beyond Murphy.
Shamrock Rovers – Mannus, Gannon, Lopes, Cotter; Finn, Watts (McCann 83), O’Neill (Noonan 87), Greene (Emakhu 54); Towell, Mandroiu; Gaffney.
Waterford – Murphy, Evans (Stafford 82), Halford, Nolan; Power, O’Keeffe, Wordsworth, Griffin (Quitirna 66), Mutswunguma (Tshipamba 76); Patterson, Martin
Ref – Rob Harvey