Date: 8:05 p.m. May 9, 2011
Venue: Richmond Park
Pete Mahon will have been by far the happier manager after his tiring side held on for a point as Rovers’ lead at the top was extended to four points, while Pats go third on goal difference.
The game started quite slowly, with Rovers enjoying much of the ball in the opening 20 minutes, Daryl Kavanagh having to work very hard up front for Pats just to keep possession. But, for all their possession, Rovers weren’t all that creative, with the hosts coming closest to scoring a few times in the first half.
On the half hour mark, Anto Murphy sent in a dangerous throw in, which was half cleared a few times, until it came out to Ian Bermingham on the edge of the area. Bouncing high, the defender headed it back into the danger area where Derek Doyle chested it and tried an optimistic over-head which went straight into Alan Mannus’ hands. Mannus then released a quick ball for Rovers to counter with. A series of headers in the area saw Anto Murphy’s clearance only go as far as Conor McCormack, who saw his volley whizz just over the bar.
Two minutes later the Hoops nearly got the opener. Gary McCabe played a neat one-two on the edge of the area but just as he reached the ball on the edge of the six-yard box, Derek Pender dived in to clear for a corner.
Down the other end, Anto Murphy’s throw-in was sent back out to him to volley in a cross. Derek Doyle rose to meet it and sent it goalwards as Daryl Kavanagh raced in to slot it in at the back post but, somehow, Mannus got a super block on it. A minute later Anto Murphy’s header looked goal-bound but Gary McCabe was on the line to clear it for Rovers as the sides went in scoreless at the break.
The second half was almost predictable. Rovers grew stronger as they called on their bench, while St Pats tired as their interminable chasing finally caught up with them. However it was the hosts who almost struck on the hour mark. After good work down the left by Paul Crowley, Daryl Kavanagh stuck a foot out to stab an effort at goal following Derek Doyle’s nice flick on. The ball came to Kavanagh too quick though, and his shot lobbed into Alan Mannus’ arms.
Rovers turned the screw with the introduction of Paddy Kavanagh and Billy Dennehy, though. The two men immediately created chances and found a lot of room around the Saints’ tired defence. On one such occasion Pat Sullivan made his way down the left before cutting into the area, pulling the ball back only for Pats to get a clearance. The ball went to Ronan Finn, though, and his excellent strike flew inches wide. A minute later and Finn again shot for range, but hit it too close to Gary Rogers.
St Pats were content with defending from then on, and they did it very well as Rovers were restricted to pot shots and half chances. However one such half chance almost gave the visitors an unlikely winner in the dying minutes as Paddy Kavanagh’s block flew goalwards, but it went just wide as Pats held on for a fine point against the league’s best squad.
St Patrick's Athletic: Rogers, E McMillan, Bermingham, Pender, Shortall, Doyle, Crowley (Stewart 66), Bradley, Murphy, Kavanagh (Daly 83), North (D McMillan 88).
Subs not used: Keegan, Harney, Carroll, Bennion.
Shamrock Rovers: Mannus, Murray, Flynn, Stevens, Sullivan, McCormack, McCabe (Kavanagh 59), Finn, Rice (Dennehy 59), O’Neill (Kilduff 75), Sheppard.
Subs not used: Kelly, Gannon, Thompson, Turner.
Man of the Match: Daryl Kavanagh.
Referee: Damien Hancock