The opening stages of this game were predictably low on drama. Two evenly matched teams and a tense occasion is often a recipe for stalemate, and so it was here. Rovers’ three man midfield was well marshalled by Paul Keegan and Glen Cronin and with both defensive lines looking focused and alert there were no real chances until the latter stages of the opening half.
It wasn’t bad football, there was little sign of the nervousness that
can blight derby games, but it was uninspired.
Killian Brennan flung in a trio of frees which all curled in towards Rovers’ back post but all were well covered by the excellent Dan Murray and Craig Sives.
Only with ten minutes remaining in the first half did the game begin to feel in any way dangerous. Bohemians were starting to dominate and a headed clearance from Sives fell to Mark Quigley whose shot was parried by Alan Manus in the Rovers goal and subsequently cleared by Robert Bayly.
Jason Byrne started to drop deeper seeking possession and Glen Cronin was proving a more positive influence in the centre. In the 44th minute Quigley dispossessed Sives and fed Byrne but he snatched at his shot when well placed and the first half ended scoreless.
The second half started brightly and James Chambers put Thomas Stewart through in the opening minute. But Barry Murphy came out decisively and cleared. Thereafter the functional football returned, the most impressive play coming from Paul Keegan, always in the right place to disrupt Rovers attempts to push forwards.
With an hour played Chris Turner came on for Dennehy, who had become increasingly marginalised under the watchful eye of Brian Shelley. But it was the home side who looked the more threatening.
Anto Murphy replaced Rossiter on the right side of midfield and with Brennan becoming ever more expressive on the left and both Quigley and Byrne testing the Rovers defence, it looked like the visitors might crack.
Alan Manus held a Brennan header and Chambers deflected a Mark Rossiter volley over the Rovers bar. Then, on 70 minutes a Keegan corner was flicked on by Murphy and fell to Brennan who sent a bicycle kick into the arms of Manus.
It was all beginning to hot up when, in the 80th minute, Dessie Baker (on for Chambers) suddenly changed the direction of the tide. He played Pat Flynn in on the right and then met the full back’s cross. Ken Oman got his head in the way and deflected the ball onto the crossbar before McGuinness blocked Stewart’s follow up.
Another Baker shot sparked loud appeals for a penalty before Anto Murphy, more by luck than judgement, scooped a corner ball off the Bohs line. Finally, in added time, a chance fell to Chris Turner at the far post but his volley was well saved by Barry Murphy.
In the dying moments a Bohemians attack broke down and Sean O’Connor took off in the opposite direction only to be cynically taken out by Glen Cronin, an act that earned a deserved yellow card. It was an incident that would be revisited after the final whistle.
The frantic ending was blown up by referee Dave McKeon after four minutes of added time and a session of derby handbags ensued as the two teams squared up around a confrontation between Glen Cronin and Sean O’Connor. It was an incident that was resurrected during the warm down too, but when the dust has settled it is Shamrock Rovers who will be more pleased with the game and the valuable point gained.
Bohemians: Barry Murphy; Brian Shelley, Jason McGuinness, Ken Oman, Conor Powell; Mark Rossiter (Anto Murphy, 66), Paul Keegan, Glen Cronin, Killian Brennan; Mark Quigley, Jason Byrne (Paddy Madden, 83), 65).
Subs not used: Chris O’Connor, Stephen Gray, Ruaidhri Higgins
Bookings: Jason McGuinness (68), Killian Brennan (89), Glenn Cronin (92).
Shamrock Rovers: Alan Manus; Pat Flynn, Craig Sives, Dan Murray, Danny Murphy; Sean O’Connor (Paddy Kavanagh, 93), Stephen Rice, Robert Bayly, James Chambers (Dessie Baker, 72), Billy Dennehy (Chris Turner, 61); Thomas Stewart.
Subs not used: Robert Duggan, Aidan Price
Bookings: Pat Flynn (60), Sean O’Connor (80).
extratime.ie Man of the Match: Paul Keegan.
Referee: Dave McKeon