Report: Ryan McMullen

The points were shared at Tolka Park after the sides played out a scoreless draw in the Ringsend Derby.

Stephen Bradley’s men went into the game with a lengthy injury list. And following a knock that was picked up in Friday’s victory away to Derry City, Gary O’Neill and Graham Burke had to sit this one out, Darragh Nugent and Johnny Kenny replaced them whilst youngster Conan Noonan also came into the team ahead of the in-form Aaron Greene.

Markus Poom was initially named in the starting line-up, however, an injury in the warm-up saw Trevor Clarke get called in to replace the Estonian International. This enforced switch saw the amount of changes for Rovers from Friday’s triumph, raised to four in total.

A poor pitch was evident from the outset, the grass surface at Shels’ home ground seemed to be heavy, showing areas of sand at times – it was one of the main challenges for both teams.

Hoops’ captain Pico Lopes was unlucky not to convert his header inside the opening 2 minutes – in the end, it rattled off the roof of the goal before falling back out to Richie Towell inside the box where his effort was deflected out for a corner.

Goalkeeper Leon Pohls crucially denied Paddy Barrett on the hosts’ first attack. Barrett received a precise ball inside the area from Matty Smith on the right, he then released a first-time strike into the far right corner but the shot-stopper got down swiftly to make a fantastic save.

A hit from Will Jarvis tested Pohls again, but this attempt lacked power, and the German ‘keeper didn’t face any trouble as he scooped it up.

In the minutes that followed, the chances were few and far between, with neither side looking likely to find the game’s opener.

Leading up to the break, a pop from Trevor Clarke fell into the hands of Conor Kearns, in goal for the home side.

The sides would head into the break level. The first 45 minutes turned out to be a fairly even half, one that neither team managed to take full control of, and both failed to create any clear-cut opportunities – although it was Rovers who dominated possession-wise.

Just after the resumption in play, Shels midfielder, John O’Sullivan drove forward on the right hand side and squared the ball to John Martin in a threatening position, with the striker testing Pohls who got down and comfortably to gather.

On 48 minutes, both sets of supporters showed their support for the victims of the Stardust tragedy and their families, holding a minute long applause as they remembered those who sadly passed away.

Whilst searching for a breakthrough, the Hoops introduced strikers Rory Gaffney and Aaron Greene with just over 25 minutes remaining in the contest. They were hoping Greene could carry on his form after producing 2 goals in Derry on Friday night.

Ringsend local Sean Kavanagh also made an appearance not long after – replacing Trevor Clarke. The 30-year-old was making his return from injury which kept him out of the side for a number of weeks.

Josh Honohan rose high above a full box of bodies and managed to get on the end of a corner swung in by Dylan Watts – his header glanced just beyond the woodwork.

The hosts faced a blow when Shane Farrell took down Darragh Nugent and referee Rob Hennessy deemed the challenge to be a foul. As a result, the winger received his second yellow card – and reduced Shels to ten men for the remaining 15 minutes.

In the final stages, the Hoops pushed and pushed for a winner. Darragh Burns almost found it with effectively the last kick of the game, but it wasn’t to be as his strong hit on the run in at the edge of the area, took a deflection off a defending player.

Rovers were forced to settle for a draw from what was a tough Monday night trip to Tolka.

The Champions now have six of their upcoming eight matches taking place on home soil. They will hope to kick-start a winning run when the first of those fixtures comes around on Friday night, with Galway United the visitors to Tallaght. Kick off is set for 8pm.

Shelbourne: Kearns, Gannon, Barrett, Molloy ©, Wilson (Caffrey 63’), O’Sullivan, Lunney, Ledwidge, Martin (Farrell 63’), Jarvis (Williams 90+2’), Smith (Boyd 74’).

Shelbourne unused substitutes: Healy, Hakiki, Ward, Temple, Isong.

Shamrock Rovers: Pohls, Burns, Cleary, Lopes ©, Honohan, Clarke (Kavanagh 72’), Noonan, Towell (Greene 63’), Watts, Nugent, Kenny (Gaffney 63’).

Shamrock Rovers unused substitutes: Steacy, Leitis, Barrett, J O’Sullivan, C O’Sullivan.

Referee: Rob Hennessy