A hot night in August 2014 was the last time hopes were this high for the Hoops faithful.
Pat Fenlon had just replaced Trevor Croly and in his first match in the Rovers hotseat he oversaw an impressive 2-0 win against Derry City in Tallaght Stadium.
An excellent second half performance and goals from Ronan Finn and Dean Kelly left Rovers fans dreaming of brighter days ahead after a couple of seasons of dull underachievement.
Alas it wasn’t to be, and tonight a Derry City side will once again attempt to get in the way of a Shamrock Rovers resurgence.
Only Finner, Luke Byrne and Simon Madden remain of the 11 who started for Rovers that night.
Anyone present in Tallaght Stadium last Friday night for the 2-1 win over Bohs will have felt the positivity.
On a rotten night, on a barely playable pitch, this fledging Hoops side showed real character to claim a deserved victory.
It was the type of game Rovers teams of the last few seasons would have probably drawn.
The gaffer described the atmosphere as the best he’d seen in Tallaght since the title winning days of Michael O Neill and Trevor Clarke wore his f***kin heart on his sleeve in his post match interview with RTE.
Heading into what will be another stern test tonight, Rovers once again have a fully fit squad to choose from with the still suspended Graham Burke the only player unavailable.
Speaking ahead of the game during the week, Derry City manager Kenny Shiels was very complimentary about the Rovers squad.“Shamrock Rovers are a very good team, they have had huge investments in order to challenge for the title and that will bring a little bit of pressure to them,” he said.
“When you bring two of Dundalk’s best players, a player from Sheffield Wednesday, you bring in Roberto Lopes, the captain of Galway, Ryan Connolly – they have cherry picked and you can see what they have done and see where they want to go.”
City beat Bohs away in their opener but had last week’s game with Limerick in their temporary home Maginn Park abandoned due to floodlight failure.
The Candystripes, who have only lost one of their last 17 games, will be without trio Conor McDermott, Ben Doherty and Rory Patterson tonight but manager Shiels seemed more worried about the state of the Tallaght pitch.
“We are the most technical team in the league, no one can argue with that. We aren’t the best team in the league, but we are the most technical, so if we get good pitches we’ll do well, we’ll play well, we’ll entertain and most times we get a result
“I’m sure Rovers will have the ground staff working on the Tallaght pitch and I think the pitch is going to be good and I’m hopeful that we can perform on it.”
Thankfully the ground staff have done great work this week and yesterday afternoon the pitch looked to have made a full recovery from the battering it took last Friday night.
Another win for The Hoops would be a great boost so early in the season and Stephen Bradley believes the players and fans work need to work together to get Rovers back to the summit of Irish football.
“We need to go and win, it’s no use to us beating Bohs and then not showing up against Derry.
“If we do that and the fans come out, this place becomes a fortress and teams won’t want to come here and play us.”
Rovers v Derry City Tallaght Stadium tonight 8pm kick off