This week we go back to 17th June, 2005 when a struggling Shamrock Rovers side defeated Shelbourne 2-1 at Tolka Park on a nice summer’s evening. While the weather was pleasant the clash between Shelbourne Chief Executive Ollie Byrne and Hoops’ manager Roddy Collins before the game most certainly was not. More about that later.

The result put Rovers on 6 points, one ahead of bottom-placed Finn Harps. The Ballybofey side had a game in hand though. Rovers needed points on the board badly. Next ahead of them in the Premier Division table were St. Pat’s who had 13 points and a game in hand on the Hoops.

The following is Owen Cowzer’s match report from the Irish Independent:

SORRY Shelbourne completed a not so ‘Magnificent Seven’ last night as they crashed to Dublin rivals Shamrock Rovers at Tolka Park.

The result means Shelbourne have now not won in seven matches, five in the League, leaving them eight points behind League leaders Cork City.

In a high-tempo match, Shels took the lead only to be pegged back and passed before half-time. Rovers then missed a penalty, had two players sent off, yet somehow clung on to win.

Shels got the dream start they were looking for, when after just five minutes, a Jason Byrne corner was powerfully headed home by an unmarked Dave Rogers.

The Reds continued to look dangerous and Rovers were relieved to escape several goalmouth scrambles before they began to create opportunities of their own with Mark Rutherford, in particular, a menace.

Paddy McCourt and Ollie Cahill at Tolka Park
Photo: Bobby Best

Dave Mooney was also threatening and he deservedly fired Rovers level in the 34th minute.

It was a well-worked goal as Stephen Gough made ground down the right wing before hoisting over a cross that was headed on by Rutherford for Mooney to show his poacher’s instinct from close range.

Eight minutes, it got better for the Hoops when Willo McDonagh headed home a second goal from close range after Derek Phillips’ corner wasn’t dealt with by the Shelbourne defence.

Rovers expected a second half onslaught and Shelbourne obliged with Glen Crowe almost beating Barry Murphy with a close range header in the 48th minute.

On the break, however, Rovers looked threatening and Pat McCourt was presented with a marvellous opportunity to give the visitors a two-goal cushion in the 62nd minute from the penalty spot after his mazy dribble was brought to a halt by a lunging Colin Hawkins challenge.

But Steve Williams brilliantly kept out McCourt’s spot kick with a fine one-handed save.

In the aftermath, Stuart Byrne clashed with McCourt and when Gavin McDonnell struck Byrne two minutes later, referee Dave McKeon brandished the red card to the Rovers man.

Shels’ numerical advantage was extended when McDonagh was sent off for a second yellow card late on but the closest they came to an equaliser was through Crowe who blazed over from close range.

SHELBOURNE — Williams; Brennan (Crawley 60), Hawkins, Rogers, Cahill; Baker, S Byrne, Crawford, Hoolahan (Ryan 70); Crowe (Fitzpatrick 75), J Byrne.

SHAMROCK ROVERS — Murphy; Gough, Gavin, McGuinness, Phillips; McDonnell, McDonagh, Rutherford; Mooney (McGovern 90), McCourt (Daniels 76), Molloy.

REF: D McKeon (Dublin).

Talk of the pre-match incident had gone all around the ground by the time supporters began to arrive in numbers. There had been a bust up at the tunnel between Ollie Byrne and Roddy Collins necessitating in the Rovers’ manager having to acquire the loan of another shirt. Collins subsequently filed a complaint with the Gardaí and the matter proceeded further from there. The Irish Times of Thursday, November 9th, 2006 carried a report:

Shelbourne Football Club chief executive Ollie Byrne has escaped conviction after he apologised for assaulting Roddy Collins over remarks made on radio by the former Shamrock Rovers manager.

A charge of assault against Mr Byrne was struck out yesterday after Mr Collins said he accepted his apology. Mr Byrne, who has previous convictions, pleaded guilty to the assault at Tolka Park shortly before a Shelbourne-Rovers game in June last year.

Dublin District Court heard that Mr Collins, who was Rovers manager until November last year, had been speaking with his assistant manager, Terry Eviston, and Shelbourne captain Owen Heary, when he saw Mr Byrne and asked him how he was keeping.

Mr Byrne did not reply and as Mr Collins turned away to continue his conversation, Mr Byrne hit him on the side of his face with his fist. Mr Byrne threw a second punch and grabbed Mr Collins’s shirt before the Rovers manager defended himself and security staff intervened. Mr Collins did not suffer any injuries although his shirt was torn. He borrowed another shirt from Shelbourne manager Pat Fenlon so he could continue his evening’s work.

Mr Collins made a complaint to gardaí the next morning. He told the court yesterday that Mr Byrne had since apologised. ‘It was unfortunate that the incident took place and there probably was a bit of provocation,’ Mr Collins said.

‘I am not happy it has come this far [ to court] though I know the procedure has to take place.’ He understood Mr Byrne was ‘under an amount of pressure’ at the time. ‘It is regrettable. I know Ollie for 15 years and he is a good man.’

Asked by Judge John Coughlan why he did it, Mr Byrne said he had been ‘sitting having dinner’ when he got a phone call saying Mr Collins was on the radio.

‘He was making scurrilous remarks about the financial situation and solvency of Shelbourne. They were totally irrelevant to football matters.’ When he heard them, he snapped and unfortunately the first person he saw when he got to Tolka Park that evening was Mr Collins.

‘I was trying to keep a football club alive and it puts tremendous pressure on you. We are all passionate people in football and sometimes we do overstep the line, but it did infuriate me.’ Mr Byrne said he worked ‘24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year’ in a business that is ‘a loss leader.’”

Judge John Coughlan said in view of Mr Collins’s attitude, he would strike out the charge.

Compiled by Robert Goggins