By Killian McHale
Stephen Bradley’s side made the short journey across the River Liffey to take on Shelbourne in Drumcondra, as both sides played out a scoreless draw in front of a sold-out Tolka Park.
There were six changes made to the Shamrock Rovers starting line-up, with Sean Hoare, Roberto Lopes, Neil Farrugia, Richie Towell, Sean Kavanagh, and Graham Burke all coming into the side from the starting-eleven that drew 4-4 at home to Cork City FC on Monday night.
It took a while for both sides to settle into the game in Tolka Park, with JJ Lunney having a shot blocked in the opening minutes.
With 10 minutes on the clock, Jack Byrne found Sean Kavanagh out on the left wing with a clever cross-field pass, who in turn laid off to Graham Burke whose snap shot was turned behind by Kearns for a Rovers corner.
After this chance, the game entered into a lull, with both sides sharing possession without troubling each-others defence.
Just before the half-hour mark, Kavanagh played a clever ball down the Rovers left wing, with Rory Gaffney getting to it before the on-rushing Kearns from the Shelbourne goal. Despite getting to it first, Gaffney was forced wide by the Shelbourne defence, before firing wide across the open Shelbourne goal, much to the relief of Kearns in the Shels goal.
With ten minutes to go before the break, Rovers felt they should have been awarded a penalty when Paddy Barrett appeared to have fouled Richie Towell in the Shelbourne box after a clever through-ball by Jack Byrne, but referee Paul McLoughlin waved play on.
Both sides created half-chances between them in the final minutes of the first half, but neither side troubled Conor Kearns & Alan Mannus in their respective goals, as both sides entered the break scoreless.
With 5 minutes on the clock in the second half, Rovers created their best chance of the game. Some great dribbling out of defence by Sean Hoare found Jack Byrne on the Rovers right-hand channel, Byrne drove forward to the edge of the Shelbourne box before providing an inch-perfect delivery that was met by the head of Rory Gaffney however the Galwegian’s headed effort went straight into the hands of Kearns, as Rovers began to put the Shelbourne defence under more pressure.
On the hour-mark, Evan Caffrey dragged an effort wide of Mannus’ goal for the home side, before Richie Towell forced Kearns into a clever save after Gaffney laid the ball off to the Rovers midfielder just moments later.
Rovers next chance fell again to Towell, who forced Kearns into another low save from an effort on the edge of the Shelbourne 18-yard box.
Rovers failed to create any clear-cut chances after this, and despite a late flurry of half-chances for the home side, both teams had to settle for a share of the points in Tolka Park on the night.
Rovers return to Tallaght next Friday, as the Hoops welcome St. Patrick’s Atheltic FC to Tallaght Stadium on St. Patrick’s Day, at an earlier kick-off time of 5 pm. Tickets remain on sale for this fixture through the club website.
Shelbourne: Kearns; JR Wilson, Barrett (46’ Ledwidge), Byrne ©, Molloy, T Wilson; Lunney (55’ McManus), Caffrey; Farrell, Moylan (81’ Robinson), Smith (65’ Leavy).
Shelbourne Unused Substitutes: Scott Van der Sluis (GK), Daithi Folan (GK), Andrew Quinn, Sean Cummins, Gbemi Arubi.
Shamrock Rovers: Mannus; Cleary (46’ Grace), Lopes ©, Hoare; Farrugia, O’Neill, Towell (84’ Kenny), Kavanagh (77’ Clarke); Burke (88’ Burt), Gaffney, Byrne.
Shamrock Rovers Unused Substitutes: Leon Pohls (GK), Sean Gannon, Simon Power, Darragh Nugent, Marcus Poom.