Date: 8 p.m. Sept. 12, 2011
Venue: Richmond Park
All the pre match talk was off a dramatically changed Rovers side. With their opening Europa League group game on Thursday, Michael O’Neill opted to rest some key personnel. But it seemed to make little difference as Rovers bossed their South Dublin rivals for much of the opening half.
The goal, a long time in coming, didn’t arrive until 19th minute when Pat’s defensive frailties were ruthlessly exposed. A Gary McCabe corner was only half-cleared to Stephen O’Donnell who needed only one touch to rifle past the busy Gary Rogers in the home goal.
It was richly deserved for one half of a Rovers midfield which stymied the Pat’s attacking threat as much as it created chances for their own side. The reigning champions passed up plenty of goal scoring chances outside O’Donnell’s effort.
Before it, Gary Twigg’s curling effort on 12 minutes was well saved by Gary Rogers. On 34 minutes, Dan Murray spurned a fantastic opportunity to double Rovers’ advantage as blazed over following a Billy Dennehy corner – again the hosts failing to clear the danger.
In fairness to the hosts, they did pose some threat going forward, but nothing clear-cut. Arguably their best chance came from a free kick after eight minutes. But Ryan Thompson did well to save. Referee Neil Doyle had whistled for a free out in any case.
Outside of this, Daryl Kavanagh proved a nuisance throughout the opening 45 minutes but found himself isolated frequently.
Pat’s looked much sharper after the restart and bombarded the Rovers’ goal with headed efforts. First centre back Conor Kenna forced Thompson into a full stretch save that looked destined for the back of the net. Only two minutes later, Evan McMillan went equally close with the head – his effort flashing just wide of the post.
Rovers retook control for a spell after this but unlike the first half, didn’t create many goal scoring chances. McCabe came closest for Rovers with a run and shot but it was only a half chance.
The second half was played at the same frantic pace as the first but didn’t really come to life until the introduction of North after the hour.
His introduction seemed to lift all in red around him. Dave Mulcahy went agonisingly close three minutes later. Indeed North himself got the final touch on the shot but could only find the side-netting. And down the other end Rogers saved brilliantly from a Craig Sives header.
It was in this end-to-end blitz that North did finally level. He latched onto a long Ian Bermingham ball over the top and fired home from a tight angle just inside the box.
Rovers’ subs would prove influential too and when Ronan Finn cracked the upright from all of 25 yards, it looked destined to end in a deadlock.
Danny North spurned three great chances to equalise late on – one of which he was played in by the impressive Daryl Kavanagh – but it wasn’t to be. Stephen Bradley blazed a free kick over in virtually the last play of the game.
St Patrick’s Athletic: Gary Rogers; Derek Pender, Conor Kenna, Evan McMillan, Ian Bermingham; Stephen Bradley, Sean O’Connor, Anthony Murphy (Derek Doyle, 61), David Mulcahy; Daryl Kavanagh, Ian Daly (Danny North, 61)
Subs not used: Shane McFaul, Brian Shortall, Paul Crowley, Shane Guthrie, Chris Bennion
Shamrock Rovers: Ryan Thompson; Sean Gannon, Dan Murray, Craig Sives, Enda Stevens; Gary McCabe (Rohan Ricketts, 77), Stephen O’Donnell, Conor McCormack, Billy Dennehy (Ronan Finn, 77); Gary Twigg, Ciaran Kilduff
Subs not used: Richard Brush, Gary O’Neill, Stephen Rice, Karl Sheppard, Jim Paterson
Referee: Neil Doyle
ExtraTime.ie Man of the Match: Conor McCormack