A dramatic end to a dramatic derby saw Ronan Finn steal a point for ten-man Shamrock Rovers after Keith Buckley had earlier given the hosts the lead.
Gary McCabe’s brief cameo – coming off the bench after 63 minutes before seeing red with ten minutes to go – seemed to have seen off the challenge of the Premier Division holders, but Finn’s 93rd minute header broke the hearts of the Dalymount faithful.
Both sides struggled to create any clear cut openings in the early stages as Pat Fenlon’s men looked to stifle the expensive talent buzzing around the Hoops’ midfield. Anto Flood, up front alone, was often isolated, but the Gypsies’ midfield did well in containing the movement of Conor McCormack, Stephen Rice and Ronan Finn throughout much of the first half.
After twenty minutes Bohs were almost gifted the lead when Finn’s back-pass bobbled in over Alan Mannus’ foot in front of the Rovers goal, but the ball went just wide in front of a gasping travelling support.
Gary O’Neill then broke from the halfway line as Rovers looked to get a foothold on the game, but Owen Heary, a rock in defence throughout, broke up the striker to great aplomb. Karl Sheppard’s ball across the box minutes later was then intercepted just before reaching O’Neill, as Rovers’ class began to show, but Bohs held on relatively comfortably until the break.
The second half started very lively, Conor McCormack’s free kick for Shamrock Rovers was headed just over by ex-Gypsy Ken Oman, a constant threat from set-pieces, and a constant aggravation for Anto Flood with consistent handling and sportsmanlike nudging of the striker throughout.
Dean Kelly and O' Neill linked up inside the hosts’ box just after the hour, but the former Sporting Fingal man's header was saved easily by Bohs’ Chris O' Connor. Ronan Finn – another former-Sporting Fingal player – had another chance a minute later, but his mishit shot looped into O’Connor’s hands.
Bohs were looking increasingly under pressure as the half wore on but it was they who finally took the lead after Killian Brennan’s dangerous free-kick was tipped behind for a corner. The talismanic midfielder then trotted over to whip in a fine cross, Aidan Price’s effort was tipped onto the crossbar before Buckley tapped in the easiest of finishes. Rovers came straight down the other end and almost scored but, after a brief assault, Bohs survived.
Things went from bad to worse for Michael O’Neill’s faltering players when Gary McCabe, only on the pitch around fifteen minutes, saw red for an altercation with the linesperson.
McCabe was unhappy that a throw-in was awarded to Bohs and decided to inform the linesperson of just that. However, he must have been a bit more forceful with his opinion than perhaps he should have been; the linesperson flagged, the referee strolled over, the red card was shown. Disaster for Rovers.
Or so we, you, hell everybody thought. A couple of substitutions ensued as Bohs handled the remaining ten minutes rather well – although the finally introduced Ciaran Kilduff was looking very handy for ten-men Rovers.
Then, that old chestnut; four minutes of injury time. Rovers huffed, puffed, and largely faltered until the defining moment seconds before the end. As Mannus ran up for a corner, the crowd suspected something was up. The corner flew in, heading for the shot-stopper, only for Ronan Finn to pop up ahead of his colleague to head in.
Bohemians: Chris O’Connor; Owen Heary, Ger O’Brien, Liam Burns, Aidan Price; Keith Buckley (Lee Dixon 78'), Robert Bayly, Stephen Traynor, Mark Rossiter, Killian Brennan; Anto Flood (David Lodola 89').
Subs not used: Craig Sexton, Gary Burke, Chris Forrester, Daniel Joyce, Kevin Feely.
Bookings: S Traynor (30), R Bayly (38), G O'Brien (52), L Dixon (88).
Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Pat Sullivan, Enda Stevens, Ken Oman, Dan Murray (Ciaran Kilduff 83'); Stephen Rice (Gary McCabe 63'), Ronan Finn, Conor McCormack, Karl Sheppard; Dean Kelly (Billy Dennehy 76'), Gary O’Neill.
Subs not used: Ryan Thompson, Sean Gannon, Paddy Kavanagh, Colm Corcoran.
Sent Off: G McCabe (80).
Referee: Anthony Buttimer.
Attendance: 3,100 (est).
Extratime.ie Man of the match: Owen Heary.