Cork City’s run of eight consecutive league victories came to end at Tallaght Stadium on Friday evening when the Leesiders were forced to settle for a 0-0 draw against Shamrock Rovers.
In the side’s first game back since the mid-season break, both the Hoops and their Cork based opponents found it hard to find their rhythm during the early stage of the game.
In the 12th minute, Rovers had the game’s first chance when Dean Clarke latched onto a lovely cross field ball from Stephen McPhail, but despite the forward being through on goal, he saw his effort well saved by Mark McNulty, who raced off his line to smother the opportunity.
With Cork’s chances being limited in the opening 25 minutes, Sean Maguire had a great chance to break the deadlock for his side after Stephen Dooley found the forward free inside the penalty area, however, his first time low shot sailed the wrong side of a helpless Craig Hyland’s far post.
Maguire was again involved in Cork’s next opportunity, but this time he failed to direct a ball over the top from Kevin O’Connor towards goal.
Rovers had an excellent chance of their own moments later when Rob Cornwell done well to find himself free at the front post from a Brandon Miele free-kick, but the left-back failed to find the target from close range.
With half-time fast approaching the sides exchanged opportunities. First Kevin O’Connor saw his shot from inside the box easily gathered by Hyland before in additional time Sean Heaney was allowed to glide into the box unmarked and latch onto a Stephen McPhail’s free-kick, but the central defender fired wide with a low shot from 13 yards.
When the sides resumed for the second-half, Cork had the half’s first chance when Stephen Beattie found Dooley with a cross from the right winger, but the midfielder failed to find the target with his tame headed effort.
Soon after, Rovers had a chance of their own when Dean Clarke struck from 25 yards, but his effort sailed wide of the Cork goal.
John Caulfield's side had a huge chance to go in front when the Leesiders broke through the middle of the park, but despite a three-on-two overlap, they failed to trouble Hyland with second-half substitute Mark O’Sullivan’s shot from the edge of the box easily blocked by the Hoops defence.
With both sides chasing a late goal that would almost gift either side all three points, Rovers had two great opportunities. First Sean Boyd’s headed effort from a Miele corner forced a brilliant save from McNulty before in the last minute of normal time McNulty was again called into action, this time he saved well from a Miele strike that appeared to move in the air.
After tonight’s draw the two sides now turn their attention to Europa League action on Thursday evening with the Hoops hosting RoPS Rovaniemi at Tallaght Stadium while Cork City is on the road when they travel to Northern Ireland to take on Lindfield.
Shamrock Rovers: Craig Hyland; Simon Madden, Sean Heaney, David O’Connor, Robert Cornwall; Gavin Brennan, Patrick Cregg, Stephen McPhail, Brandon Miele; Gary Shaw (Sean Boyd 59), Dean Clarke (Trevor Clarke 77) .
Subs Not Used: Barry Murphy, Maxime Blanchard, David Webster, James Doona, Richard Purdy.
Booked: Rob Cornwell (36), Sean Heaney (71), Stephen McPhail (80).
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Conor McCarthy (Ian Turner 59), Alan Bennett, Kenny Browne, Kevin O’Connor; Steven Beattie, Greg Bolger, Gavan Holohan (Mark O’Sullivan 59) , Gearoid Morrissey, Stephen Dooley (Danny Morrissey 73); Sean Maguire.
Subs Not Used: David Coffey, Colin Healy, Garry Buckley, Karl Sheppard.
Booked: Sean Maguire (31), Kenny Browne (45+1).
Referee: Paul McLaughlin
Attendance: 1,500 (estimate)
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Dean Clarke (Shamrock Rovers)