Date: 8 p.m. June 8, 2010
Venue: Tallaght Stadium
It was an opening forty five minutes that was packed with Entertainment; Drogheda bossing the first ten minutes with a strong defensive showing and a central midfield trio of Michael Daly, Gareth O’Connor and Paul Crowley that dominated Rovers with neat, passing football.
But Drogheda created little in front of goal and in the tenth minute Rovers started to find their feet. When Gary Twigg was bundled over by Joe Kendrick, James Chambers smacked the resulting free kick against the butt of the visitors post.
Rovers were now passing the ball with imagination and openings started to come more regularly. In the 18th minute Thomas Stewart pulled wide before finding Twigg with a ball that the front man drove powerfully wide of Paul Murphy’s left hand post.
Stewart again carved open the visitor’s defense on 26 minutes when he turned Corie Treacy and fired in a cross that surprised Kendrick and Chambers at the back post. Kendrick missed it and Chambers failed to react with the ball bouncing off his toe and into the hands of Drogs ‘keeper, Paul Murphy.
There were chances for Drogheda too and they fell largely to O’Connor, who drove through a crowded box and narrowly wide, before sending a diving header wide of the goal from a Brendan McGill cross.
Bayly meanwhile was orchestrating the Rovers response by putting in Chambers who fluffed his cross and then Twigg who flicked a pass to Baker, which was snuffed out by Kendrick.
The full back then appeared at the other end to flash in a free that Mannus did well to tip around the post.
The half ended scoreless but neither side was willing to relax, and the second half started at a cracking pace. First Dessie Baker beat the offside line and fed Twigg who in turn played in Chambers. His screwed shot fell at Baker’s feet just six yards out but he blasted the ball over the bar.
Then John Flood had a header saved at the other end before Bayly shot from twenty yards and Murphy pulled off an acrobatic save. Moments later Bayly shot again and a desperate Drogheda body threw itself in the way.
A period of relative calm followed in which John Flood was narrowly beaten to a through ball by Alan Mannus, O’Connor pulled two shots wide and Chris Turner replaced Stephen Rice.
Turner was soon in the thick of it, providing a headed opportunity for Twigg who failed to hit the target before Chambers beat Eoghan Osbourne with a sublime piece of skill; which sent in a curling cross that was collected by Murphy at the second attempt.
It seemed as if Rovers must score, but with 67 minutes played Gareth O’Connor broke and fed John Flood inside the box. The big striker tucked his shot past Mannus and neatly inside his near post.
Rovers will have felt aggrieved but Drogheda could have had a second on 71 minutes when Brendan McGill shot weakly from eight yards when under pressure from Pat Flynn. His effort trickled wide.
With little more than twenty minutes to play Rovers started to become untidy. A wild shot from too far out by Turner and a series of missed passes indicated a measure of panic but Bayly kept his hand firmly on the tiller. Another sublime ball almost put in by Billy Dennehy, brought on for full back Pat Flynn, but it was marginally too firm.
Then, with only eight minutes on the clock Bayly picked up the ball on the halfway line and strode forwards. With little else on he unleashed a venomous shot from twenty five yards that flew past Murphy and into the bottom left hand corner of the net.
It was a deserved equaliser but there was little security for either side. In the final minutes Chambers flung a free, inches over the bar and delivered a back post cross that Twigg might well have buried on another day.
Craig Sives cleared off the line from Ryan Brennan and Gareth O’Connor put in Jamie Duffy who had time and space, before slipping and nudging the ball wide.
Four minutes of added time gave Duffy another chance, which he passed up and yet another back post opening for Twigg who hesitated fatally.
br /> At last the whistle went and each side went off to warm applause. It was a 1-1 draw that deservedly maintained the honour of both teams and thrilled a crowd of 2,650 at Tallaght Stadium.
Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Pat Flynn (Billy Dennehy, 74),Craig Sives, Dan Murray, Danny Murphy; Thomas Stewart (Sean O’Connor, 68), Robert Bayly, Stephen Rice (Chris Turner, 60), James Chambers; Dessie Baker, Gary Twigg.
? Subs not used: Robert Duggan, Graham Barrett.
Bookings: Turner (78).
Drogheda United: Paul Murphy; Corie Treacy, Alan McNally, Joe Kendrick, Eoghan Osbourne; Brendan McGill, Michael Daly, Gareth O’Connor, Eric McGill, Paul Crowley (Ryan Brennan, 86); John Flood (Jamie Duffy, 84).
?Subs not used: Paul Skinner, Glen Fitzpatrick, Colm Smyth.
Bookings: Daly (32), O’Connor (56), Murphy (63), Crowley (83).
extratime.ie Man of the Match: Robert Bayly.
Referee: Neil Doyle.