Finn Harps came to Tallaght Stadium on Sunday afternoon and earned a point as Shamrock Rovers drew a league game for the first time this season. An early second half header from Dave Scully secured the point for Harps in the 1-1 draw after Gary Shaw had headed the home team into a half-time lead.
Coming into the game having lost three in a row and conceding 12 goals, Ollie Horgan lined out his Harps team with five at the back. He was looking to contain Shamrock Rovers but his team were 1-0 down after just eight minutes.
Before that Dean Clarke had gone close for the Hoops after Brandon Miele played in Clarke behind the packed five man Harps defence. Clarke had a couple of attempts to beat Ciaran Gallagher but the goalkeeper stood up well.
Damien McNulty won an early corner for Harps off Rovers left-back David O’Connor, but that was nearly as good as it got for Harps in the opening period. It was an error from Gallagher that handed the Hoops the early advantage. Under no pressure from a defensive header back to the ‘keeper, he spilled it to concede a corner. Brandon Miele whipped it in from the left and Gary Shaw rose highest to head home – his third goal in four games.
When Harps got the chance their fullbacks got forward with Ethan Boyle and captain Ciaran Coll supporting up top Dave Scully and Sean Houston. They couldn’t trouble the young centre half partnership of 20 and 21-year-old Sean Heaney and Rob Cornwell in the first half anyway.
Midway through the half, the Hoops went close twice in two minutes. Gallagher gathered Gary McCabe’s shot from outside the area, while Miele really should have found the target after a move involving McCabe and Simon Madden.
Gallagher pulled off a wonderful save three minutes from the break, diving low to his right to tip a Shaw shot around the post after the Rovers striker had run onto a Stephen McPhail ball over the top.
The half ended with Dave Scully going in the book for kicking out at Rob Cornwall right in front of the Harps bench and squaring up to Killian Brennan as the teams went off at the break.
Scully had the adrenaline still going after the break as his glancing header found the back of the net – the first time Rovers had conceded this season in a league game when they had found the net themselves.
Another good save by Gallagher two minutes later kept the game level as he batted behind a McCabe shot for a Rovers corner and moments later smothered a Shaw shot after Cornwall had played a pass around the corner of the Rovers defence.
Rovers patient passing looked for rewards and Clarke shaved the edge of the post with a shot two minutes before the hour mark. Horgan brought off Scully with Kevin McHugh coming on after possibly fearing Scully may get his second yellow card. However it was Rovers who went a man down on 66 minutes.
McCabe was unhappy with Gallagher coming through him to punch the ball. Moments after, McCabe lashed out in an off the ball incident. After consulting with his fourth official Rob Rogers, reaching into his back pocket Anthony Buttimer produced a straight red for McCabe – his second straight red of the league campaign.
Brennan went close with a wide free kick in the last ten minutes after Tommy McMonagle bundled over Shaw and Michael Funsten almost exploited a loose touch by Brennan by the game ended in a 1-1 draw.
Shamrock Rovers: Craig Hyland; Simon Madden, Rob Cornwall, Sean Heaney, David O’Connor; Killian Brennan, Stephen McPhail (Pat Cregg 80); Dean Clarke (Danny North 70), Gary McCabe, Brandon Miele (James Doona 86); Gary Shaw.
Subs not used: Barry Murphy, Max Blanchard, Richard Purdy, Sean Boyd.
Booked: Danny North (85), Killian Brennan (87).
Sent Off: Gary McCabe (66).
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher; Ethan Boyle (Josh Mailey 90+3), Damien McNulty, Packie Mailey, Tommy McMonagle, Ciaran Coll; Michael Funston, Gareth Harkin, Adam Hanlon (Tony McNamee 71); Dave Scully (Kevin McHugh 62), Sean Houston.
Subs not used: Richard Brush, Keith Cowan, Michael Rafter, Ryan Curran.
Booked: Dave Scully (45).
Referee: Anthony Buttimer (Cork).
Attendance: 1,000 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Ciaran Gallagher (Finn Harps).