Gary Twigg earned Shamrock Rovers a deserved point with a late equaliser in what was a disappointing match at Tallaght Stadium. Neither side could complain at the result in a game of few clear-cut chances. City scored first thanks to the only bit of genuine class on view with a beautiful free kick from Colin Healy. It looked like being enough for the win but Twigg scored with his only shot of the match seven minutes from time.
The first half was an extremely dull affair with little chances to speak of. Both sides tried to play the football on the ground but there was no inventive spark to break down either defence. The few chances that did materialise were mainly due to inept defending. An early example of this was when Ollie Cahill, playing in an unfamiliar role in defence, hesitated, and was grateful that Denis Behan’s shot was blocked. The match finally came to life when the ever willing Twigg had a powerful long range effort beaten away by Cork 'keeper Dan Connor.
Cork made a tactical change after only 25 minutes to try and counter the lively Sean O’Connor; Neal Hogan, a full back, replacing Davin O’Neill with Pat Sullivan moving to midfield. Immediately following this Cork could have scored, a vicious 35-yard shot from Behan was palmed away by Rovers 'keeper Robert Duggan but alas for Cork nobody was there to capitalise. The half finished with the sides exchanging bookings, Stephen Rice of Rovers for a late tackle and Sullivan for a foul on Shane Robinson.
The second half could only improve on the lack of entertainment and so it proved. Cork should have taken the lead when Billy Dennehy led a three-on-three breakaway. He chose the wrong option by not passing, shooting wide. There followed several minutes of sustained pressure form Cork with a series of free kicks and corners seeing them camped in the Rovers half. It was thus no surprise when Colin Healy opened the scoring with a beautifully taken free kick from 20 yards out. He curled it brilliantly over the wall to beat the keeper at his near post.
Rovers almost equalised two minutes later, with Darragh Maguire unlucky to see his curling shot go just over following crossed free kick. The home side piled men forward in the hope of an equaliser with the source of most of their good play coming from substitute Padraig Amond. Indeed he was unlucky to see a 73rd minute header come back off the bar following a goal mouth scramble.
Rovers finally got their reward with only seven minutes remaining. A long ball over the top was allowed to bounce by the Cork defence, Connor ran out to beat Amond to the ball only for Shane Robinson to play the ball in to Twigg. With the goalkeeper out of position Twigg picked his spot to place the ball into the far corner form 15 yards out for a deserved equaliser. Both sides seemed to settle for a draw thereafter, with the only remaining action concerning more players entering the referees note book. Joe Gamble receiving a caution for a foul and Latvian striker Guntars Silagailis for diving.
Both managers agreed afterwards that a draw was a fair result and they will both be relieved that their respective recent unbeaten runs continue. Rovers have now had one win, one draw and one loss in their new Tallaght home and maintain a mid table position, while Cork, having started the season so poorly, will have to make do with fourth for now. However, if they want to move up the table, both sides will have to improve their creativity in the search for goals and thus victories.
Shamrock Rovers: Robert Duggan; Corie Treacy, Simon Webb, Darragh Maguire, Ollie Cahill; Shane Robinson, Stephen Rice, Greg Cameron (Tadhg Purcell 79), Sean O’Connor (Padraig Amond 67); Gary Twigg, Dessie Baker.
Subs not used: Barry Murphy (gk), Eric McGill, Aidan Price.
Cork City: Dan Connor; Pat Sullivan, Greg O’Halloran, Dan Murray, Danny Murphy; Davin O’Neill (Neal Horgan 27), Colin Healy, Joe Gamble, Billy Dennehy; Denis Behan, Guntar Silagailis(Tim Kiely 87).
Subs not used: Mark McNulty (gk), Fahrudin Kuduzovic, Shane Duggan.
Referee: Richie Winter
Extratime Man of the match Gary Twigg (Shamrock Rovers) - It is the sign of a good striker that he can score with his only shot of the match. Twigg was a constant irritant for Cork and looked lively throughout.