An early battle for midfield supremacy ensured neither side had any clear chances on goal until 10 minutes into the match. Anto Flood of Shelbourne had a half-chance, and top scorer David McAllister went close four minutes later. Sporting Fingal were able to push Shelbourne back, with Robert Bayly yellow-carded a minute before a Shaun Williams pass for Gary O’Neill was just about cleared off the Shels' line.
Damien Brennan, the Shels' captain, played the ball out wide in the 20th minute to set up Peter Hynes in a wonderful flowing move. Former Fingal striker Hynes couldn’t apply the finish, however. Both sides had chances from corners before half-time, with Shels enjoying the lion’s share of four first half corners to Fingal’s two. Alan Keely was subbed off injured in the 36th minute for Kevin Doherty, a player just recovering from his own injury lay-off.
The second half began with an excellent run down the wing by Fingal’s top scorer Conan Byrne, but the cross was well cut out by Michael Synott. Fingal sustained their attack until a Kevin Doherty clearance found Anto Flood up front for Shels, but Flood couldn’t find the net.
Dean Delaney had to pull off a tremendous save in the 50th minute to deny Sporting’s Gary O’Neill a goal after Robert Bayly’s cross found the head of the ex-Shels striker. Soon after, Shaun Williams brought Flood down off the ball and was yellow-carded.
A major talking point in the match came in the 64th minute as Bayly was shown a second yellow card for sliding in recklessly on Shelbourne 'keeper Delaney. A minor scuffle ensued and Shelbourne’s David McGill was given a yellow card for his part. Alan Kirby moved back to fill the hole in the Sporting Fingal midfield left by the dismissal.
Just a minute later, the ten men took the lead. Conan Byrne took a low, dipping free kick on the edge of the Shelbourne penalty area and Dean Delaney was unable to get across the Shels area to keep it out of his goal. The tempo of the match quickened, as Shelbourne raced up the pitch in search of an immediate equaliser. David Crawley missed a glorious chance for The Real Reds in the 66th minute as the defender blazed the ball over the waiting Sporting Fingal goal.
The aforementioned high drama was now coming in thick and fast now. In the 68th minute, Conan Byrne doubled both his and Sporting Fingal’s tally for the evening as he capitalised on a Shelbourne defensive error. Kevin Doherty slipped, allowing Alan Kirby in to set up Byrne for a tap in to make it 2-0.
With not long now left in the match, Shelbourne surged forward once again. Their breakthrough came in the 76th minute when a David McGill cross floated close to the goal, was spilled by the Fingal ‘keeper and rolled in lamely.
Quigley turned hero soon after when he saved a David McAllister shot which seemed a certainty to go in. Shels threatened again from a corner in the 79th minute when Lorcan Fitzgerald had to clear the ball off the Fingal line.
Finally, Shels found their equaliser through a moment of brilliance from Peter Hynes in the 83rd minute. Hynes hit a beautiful looping shot which arched perfectly over Quigley to level things up and then proceeded to celebrate by cupping his ears in front of the unhappy Fingal fans.
The match fizzled out after the Shels equaliser, with both sides failing to make the most from their chances. Eamonn Zayed was yellow- carded for lashing out at Hynes in the 87th minute.
The draw allows U.C.D to edge further clear in the race for the First Division title. Shelbourne still have a match in hand against Waterford later in the month, which would allow them to go a point clear if it ends in victory for Shels. Sporting play Longford Town away next week, followed by a home fixture on the 23rd of this month against Limerick.
Sporting Fingal: Quigley, James, Fitzgerald, Williams, Maher, Paisley, Byrne, Bayly, O’Neill, Kirby (Zayed ‘72), McFaul Unused Subs: Frost, Konopka, Foley, Dawson
Shelbourne: Delaney, Synott, Hedderman, Keely (Doherty ’36), Brennan (Crawley ’69), M. O’Brien, McGill, Cassidy, Hynes, Flood (Griffiths ’64), McAllister.
Unused Subs: Whelan, C. O’Brien.
Referee: R. Rogers.
Extratime.ie Man Of The Match: Conan Byrne again. The Fingal midfielder scored twice to cap yet another brilliant performance.