A little bit of history was made at Tallaght Stadium on Sunday afternoon as an injury time winner from Daniel Purdy gave Shamrock Rovers B their first ever league win with a smash and grab 2-1 victory over Longford Town.
Longford started the brighter of the two teams with Dave O'Sullivan and Sean Russell both coming agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock within the first ten minutes. Shamrock Rovers target man Mark Sandford had to be content with scraps for much of the first half, but to his credit, the youngster managed to improvise productively.
The former Crumlin United schoolboy had the home side's first real chance of the game after ten minutes when he dragged a low shot across Chris Bennion's post after using a combination of strength and pace to evade the attention of the visiting rear-guard.
Despite being on the back foot for much of the first half's early exchanges, it was the Hoops who drew first blood. Right-back Nathan Brown started the move picking up possession deep in his own half before showing the vision to pick out Kevin Knight marauding down the left flank with a pinpoint diagonal pass. Knight provided the assist squaring for Chris Lyons who made no mistake from close range.
Longford reacted by raising the tempo of their game substantially with Sean Russell beginning to provide Town with an inventive spark. Rovers custodian Michael Kelly was soon called upon to save a header from David O'Sullivan who climbed highest to meet Russell's corner before Kevin O'Connor's subsequent rebound was scrambled off the line by Ryan Doolin.
The aerial prowess of the Longford front pairing of David O'Sullivan and Gary Shaw was the source of much of the Midlands outfit's attacking threat with both nodding narrowly over Kelly's crossbar as the half-time interval approached.
Longford adapted a 4-3-3 formation for the second half which saw Gary Shaw flanked by both David O'Sullivan and Don Cowan. In contrast, Colin Hawkins set up his young side with a view to soaking up the visitors' offensive advances and hitting them on the break.
Aided by their substantial aerial presence, Tony Cousins' side were particularly dangerous from set pieces. Indeed it was from a set piece that Longford grabbed a well-deserved equaliser. With 56 minutes gone, O'Connor whipped in a corner for the rising David O'Sullivan to head home the leveler.
Hawkins called the injured Chris Lyons ashore and replaced him with Ryan Coombes who slotted into a five man midfield structured toward challenging Longford's stranglehold over possession in the centre of the park.
This move may have failed to help the hosts wrestle any significant portion of the possession percentages away from the Midlanders but it did help stifle Longford's attacking flow. With goalscoring opportunities at a premium, it seemed whoever was to score next would be leaving Tallaght with all three points in the bag.
David O'Sullivan nearly got the coveted second for Longford on 79 minutes after Rhys Gorman's blocked effort fell into his path only for him to slip and scoop the ball over the bar with his outstretched leg.
With just a minute of normal time remaining, O'Sullivan was to face further disappointment. This time the former Wayside Celtic striker tapped the ball home after being picked out at the back post by substitute Etanda Nkololo only to be adjudged to have been offside.
With the game now in injury time, proceedings were to take a most unpredictable twist. The first incident in this injury time saga came when referee John McLaughlin showed former Rovers defender Pat Flynn a straight red card for dissent.
Shortly after Rovers were to capitalise on some hesitant Longford defending and snatch their first three points of the season. Michael Kelly's punt downfield sailed over the heads of the Town defence and into the path of the onrushing Daniel Purdy who calmly slotted past the stranded Bennion.
The most profound effect of Rovers' win will be the confidence boost it will give Hawkins' young squad. For Cousins and Longford, Sunday's defeat will be seen as three points squandered by a side who have yet to reach the standards expected of them at the start of the season.
Shamrock Rovers: Michael Kelly; Nathan Brown, Michael Kelly, Conor Dunne, Evan Osam; Daniel Purdy, Ryan Doolin, Cian Kavanagh (Stephen Confrey 72), Kevin Knight; Chris Lyons (Ryan Coombes 62), Mark Sandford (Emeka Onwubiko 85).
Subs not used: Shane Fagan (gk), Liam Traynor, Jack Watson, Richard Purdy.
Longford Town: Chris Bennion; Noel Haverty, Pat Flynn, Pat Sullivan, Glen O'Connor (Rhys Gorman 46); Lorcan Shannon (Don Cowan 46), Kevin O'Connor, Stephen Rice, Sean Russell; Gary Shaw (Etanda Nkololo 81), David O'Sullivan.
Subs not used: Paul Hunt (gk), William Tyrell, Chris Deans, Peter Hynes.
Referee: John McLoughlin
Attendance: 400 (estimate)
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Sean Russell (Longford Town).