Date: 7:45 p.m. Oct. 2, 2009
Venue: Tallaght Stadium
It was Bohs who enjoyed the better of the early exchanges and in the seventh minute Conor Powell showed quick feet on the left after Joseph Ndo had fed him. Stephen Rice was equal to the challenge and showed some early assurance for the Hoops, blocking at Powell’s feet to send it out for the corner.
Gary Twigg got the loudest cheer from the home crowd when the names were read out pre-match and after a quarter of an hour the Scot showed why he’s the subject of such appreciation in D24 right now. Chasing his 23rd league goal of the season, he raced onto a hit and hope ball down the middle. As Brian Murphy dashed from goal, Twigg checked his run before lobbing the former Swansea 'keeper. It sailed just wide.
The momentum, albeit at a snail's pace, ebbed and flowed between the sides and in the 20th minute Joe Ndo showed fine awareness to spot Jason Byrne's diagonal run. The one-on-one was on for Byrne had Aidan Price not made up the ground to clear with an outstretched leg. That was to be the last of the significant chances in the half and it played out to a catalogue of errors summed up by a weary kick into touch in the 32nd minute by the characteristically classy Twigg when he had an ocean of space to play with.
The energy rising off both bands of supporters, giving the game a distinct air of the partisan, seemed on the night to mirror scenes from the great footballing rivalries in the likes of Istanbul and Belgrade. The collective spirit in the crowd did little to shake up the players and the game carried on in the second half with little to stir the emotions save for a few half chances.
In the 61st minute Ndo, a nuisance at times for the Rovers' defence, skipped around Stephen Rice and drove a shot towards goal before Price intervened with a sliding block. Two minutes later the Cameroon international swung in a corner from the right and Ken Oman rose unmarked. The free header was glanced wide when a goal bound effort would have seemed easier. How he might rue it now.
With the decibel levels decreasing, if not quite falling to mute, it looked like both sets of supporters were settling for the draw. Until ten minutes from time.
Sean O’Connor’s looping free from the left looked hopeful initially until Craig Sives challenged at the back post. Padraig Amond reacted quickest as the ball dropped, volleyed with his left foot, and the net rippled via Brian Shelley's arm. The deadlock was broken and the swell of emotion seemed to burst its’ banks as the Hoops faithful let loose with thunderous cheer.
Such celebratory mood is seldom without the threat of a gatecrasher and seven minutes later Paddy Madden struck a speculative high ball into the Rovers' box. Glen Crowe, looking up over his shoulder for the balls arrival, was clumsily challenged by Pat Sullivan and Alan Kelly immediately pointed to the spot. Sullivans’ remonstrations earned him a yellow card but truthfully, he can have little to argue about.
Jason Byrne stepped up but was delayed when an unsavoury incident stopped play. The linesman had allegedly been hit by a flying bottle. When Byrne finally got his cue, we were ready for silence to descend and the party to end. What followed was a rapture as loud as the Rovers' goal, for Byrne struck a penalty that perhaps Ronan O’Gara would be proud, such was the height it reached as it ballooned over.
That would have seemed to conclude matters but in the aftermath of the missed penalty, Sullivan had felt cause to pursue his exchange with the referee. He got his marching orders at the death but that won’t have even the slightest bearing on Hoops' fans going into the Tallaght night. Six games to go, “Bring it on,” is what they may well now be thinking.
Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus, Pat Sullivan, Aidan Price, Craig Sives, Ollie Cahill, Shane Robinson ©, Stephen Rice, Stephen Bradley (Padraig Amond, 72), Ross Chisholm (Sean O‘Connor, 56), Gary Twigg (Paddy Kavanagh, 62), Graham Barrett.
Bohemians: Brian Murphy, Owen Heary ©, Conor Powell (Neale Fenn, 89), Glen Cronin, Brian Shelley, Ken Oman, Paul Keegan, Joseph Ndo, Paddy Madden, Jason Byrne, Mark Rossiter (Glen Crowe, 66).
Referee: Alan Kelly.