By Killian McHale
Shamrock Rovers were dealt another late blow in Tallaght on Friday evening when St. Patrick’s Athletic scored a late equaliser to rescue a point as the Hoops continue to look for their first win of the 2023 League of Ireland season.
On a glorious St. Patrick’s Day afternoon in Tallaght, a sold-out crowd were treated to a thoroughly entertaining Dublin Derby, with Rovers twice going ahead through Richie Towell and Jack Byrne, before Tim Clancy’s side netted a late equaliser through Jake Mulraney to share the points.
Stephen Bradley made two changes to his side that drew with Shelbourne a week ago, with Trevor Clarke & Johnny Kenny replacing Sean Kavanagh & Graham Burke respectively.
It was Rovers who started on the front foot, and should’ve been ahead after two minutes, only for Johnny Kenny to slice his shot inside the Pats box after a fantastic run and cross by Trevor Clarke.
Real clear-cut chances were hard to come by in the opening stages of the half. On 13 minutes, after a clever run down the right wing by Noah Lewis, his cross found Eoin Doyle at the back post with the goal at his mercy, but the former Hoops striker mis-hit his effort from close range and rolled wide of Alan Mannus’ goal.
Two minutes later, Kenny headed just wide of Dean Lyness’ goal, after Rory Gaffney picked out the young striker with an inch-perfect ball from the left-wing.
Rovers pressure was rewarded on the 20-minute mark, when Richie Towell netted his first of the season to break the deadlock. Rory Gaffney came deep into the Rovers midfield, collected the ball, before finding Towell with a perfect pass, before the midfielder calmly curled home beyond Lyness in front of the South Stand to give Rovers a deserved lead.
Pats upped the tempo after this, and twice came close through their two forwards – Eoin Doyle and Conor Carty – only for the pair to just not get on the end of both their respective crosses as Rovers looked to hold onto their lead until half-time.
It was looking like Rovers would head into the break with the lead, until the visitors were given a lifeline after Sean Hoare fouled Eoin Doyle in the Rovers box minutes before half-time, before Doyle sent Mannus the wrong way to level the scoring.
Similarly to the first-half, Rovers started on the front-foot, with Trevor Clarke firing just over the Pats box just minutes into the half.
And just moments later, Rovers regained the lead through Jack Byrne. Neil Farrugia found Byrne free 25-yards out from the Pats goal, before he rifled an unstoppable effort into the top-right corner to give Stephen Bradley’s side the lead once more.
It was almost three on the hour-mark, when Trevor Clarke cut in from the left-wing, before firing a low-driven effort off the right-hand post, much to the relief of the Pats players and supporters.
As the game went on, it was still Rovers creating the clear chances, with Farrugia twice coming close to extending Rovers lead – firstly through a headed effort that went wide, before the winger went on a mazy run down the right-wing, cut in and had an effort deflected narrowly over Lyness’ crossbar.
These missed chances came back to bite the Hoops, as the visitors equalised in the 88th minute. Two substitutes combined as Adam Murphy found Jake Mulraney on the edge of the Rovers box, as Mulraney’s effort curled beyond Alan Mannus to give the visitors a late equaliser.
Rovers looked to regain the lead after this, with Byrne and Hoare forcing Lyness into two incredible saves late into injury-time, but this was as close as it got for the Hoops as both teams shared the points in an extremely tight Dublin Derby.
The league now breaks for international fixtures with the Hoops returning to action on Friday 31st March with a trip up the M1 to Oriel Park to face Dundalk FC in a 7:45pm kick-off.
Shamrock Rovers: Mannus; Hoare, Lopes ©, Cleary; Farrugia, O’Neill, Towell, Clarke (62’ Kavanagh); Byrne, Gaffney (84’ Gannon), Kenny (72’ Grace).
Shamrock Rovers Unused Substitutes: Leon Pohls (GK), Graham Burke, Darragh Nugent, Justin Ferizaj, Liam Burt, Conan Noonan.
St. Patrick’s Athletic: Lyness; Lewis (80’ Murphy), Redmond ©, McGrath; Curtis, Kreida, Forrester (87’ McCormack), Timmermans (80’ Lonergan), Breslin; E.Doyle (64’ M.Doyle), Carty (64’ Mulraney).
St. Patrick’s Athletic Unused Substitutes: David Odumosu (GK), Serge Atakayi, Jay McCellend, Axel Sjoberg.