League Report: Shamrock Rovers 1 - 1 Dundalk

Shamrock Rovers

Shamrock Rovers Credit: Eddie Lennon (ETPhotos)

Rory Merriman reports from Tallaght stadium

Buoyed with confidence off the back of a commanding 3-1 victory over St Patrick’s Athletic in the President’s Cup last Friday night, it was everything but the same old story in Tallaght stadium tonight as Dundalk secured a 1-1 draw with the League of Ireland champions.

Netting for Dundalk was debutant James Gullan who signed from Scottish League One side, Raith Rovers in the January transfer window with an excellently placed free kick, equalised by Rovers talisman Aaron Greene.

Shamrock Rovers got off to a strong start with Sean Kavanagh proving himself to be a real nuisance up and down the left wing.

Dundalk were slow off the mark but quickly found their feet as no nonsense defender, Zak Bradshaw, made his presence known acting as a stone wall defender, letting nothing by him easily, including Neil Farrugia who was taken down on the edge of the box, resulting in an injury that saw him carried off in a stretcher just 25 minutes in.

Posing as a lone striker up front for Rovers in the first half, a resolute and unwavering Rory Gaffney tirelessly tested the Dundalk defence to no avail, as Stephen O’Donnell’s men fortified goalkeeper Geroge Shelvey.

Against the run of play in the 34th minute, debutant James Gullan fired a wonder strike, free kick from the edge of the box passed an outstretched Leon Pohls to open the scoring in Dublin 24, putting the visitors ahead as they entered the break.

Momentum favoured the visitors in the second half as they opened their second half with headed effort from Ryan O’Kane narrowly missing the target, ricocheting off the post back into play.

O’Kane’s error proved costly as minutes later, Aaron Greene made it one a piece when a deft pass from Conan Noonan met the head of the substitute bringing the home side back into the game.

The home side persisted, hungry for a second goal, with efforts from new overseas signing Daragh Burns who made a dangerous break through the defence only to fire it over the upright into the home supporters.

Time was running out for Bradley’s men, but Dundalk continued to hold their own, parking 11 men behind the ball, defending like their life depended on it for the final minutes of the game.

The final whistle echoed around a three-quarter full Tallaght stadium with a scoreline that read 1-1. Not the start The Hoops were looking for to kick off their drive for five, but a point will suffice for Stephen Bradley’s men.

In what should have been a habitual victory on home soil for Shamrock Rovers, Dundalk salvaged a point Tallaght in what can only be described as the perfect start to the Lilywhite’s 2024 campaign.

Shamrock Rovers: Leon Pohls; Josh Honohan; Sean Hoare; Daniel Cleary; Sean Kavanagh; Gary O’Neill (C); Markus Poom (Aaron Green. 46); Rory Gaffney; Daragh Burns; Neil Farrugia (Trevor Clarke 25’) (Daragh Nugent 45+7) ; Conan Noonan (Dylan Watts 61)

Subs: Lee Steacy; Lee Grace; Dylan Watts; Aaron Greene; Cian Barrett; Daragh Nugent; Trevor Clarke; John O’Sullivan; Cian Dillon

Subs not used: Lee Steacy; Lee Grace; Cian Barrett; John O’Sullivan; Cian Dillon

Booked: Daniel Cleary (45+5) Daragh Burns (51 mins)

Dundalk FC: George Shelvey; Archie Davies; Jamie Walker; Andrew Boyle (C); Daryl Horgan (Sam Durrant 77); Robert Benson (Robbie Mahon 84); Jamie Gullan (Cameron Elliot); Ryan Kan (Hayden Muller 84); Mayowa Animasahun; Scott High; Zak Bradshaw (Paul Doyle 69)

Subs: Runo Munro; Louie Annesley; Robert Mahon; Zak Johnson; Cameron Elliot; Hayden Muller; Paul Doyle; Samuel Durrant; Ciaran McGuckin

Subs not used: Runo Munro; Louie Annesley; Ciaran McGuckin

Booked: Zac Bradshaw (21) Jamie Gullen(46) Mayowa Animasahun (65)

Attendance: 7,610

Extra-time Man of the Match: Rory Gaffney