Both sides started the game in a typical cagey manner. With Rovers playing just one striker up front, midfield was a fairly crowded affair. Neither keeper was called into action with Ken Oman perhaps having the best chance when he headed over on 17 minutes from a Keegan cross from the right.
The game sparked into life after the half hour mark with the home side beginning to string some decent passes together. Killian Brennan was shown the yellow card for bringing down Chris Turner in midfield on 36 minutes, but the home team did nothing with the resultant free kick. Bohs then surged forward down the left and a Jason Byrne cross was headed just wide by Brennan. Rovers then countered and won a throw-in on the left near the corner flag, centre half Aidan Price headed on Stephen Rice’s long throw to Dennehy on the back post who headed across the keeper into the far side of goal.
Having broken their duck, Shamrock Rovers were suddenly all over their visitors. Dennehy, Dan Murray and Thomas Stewart all had chances as they looked to increase their lead, before the half time whistle provided some relief for Bohemians.
Pat Fenlon brought Mark Quigley for Brennan at the restart but it made little difference as the champions never got into stride. Turner and James Chambers worked their socks off in midfield for the home side to subdue the visitors.
The second biggest cheer of the night came when talismanic striker Gary Twigg made a surprise return from injury coming on as a 72nd minute substitute. However, manager Michael O’Neill’s injury woes continue as he had to sub three players, Rice, Cahill and Flynn, all limping off the pitch.
Paul Keegan should have done better on 75 minutes when he broke through but shot weakly at the advancing Alan Mannus. Raffaele Cretaro had one last chance to level it in the third of five added minutes at the end, but he blasted it high and wide, summing up an off-night that Fenlon’s men will wish to forget about.
Shamrock Rovers: Mannus, Flynn (O'Connor 75), Price, Murray, Murphy; Dennehy, Chambers, Rice (Bayly 60), Turner, Cahill (Twigg 72); Stewart. – Unused: Duggan, Barrett
Bohemians: O'Connor, Shelley, Heary (Madden 81), Oman, Powell; McGlynn, Keegan, Cronin (Higgins 85), Brennan (Quigley 45); Cretaro, Byrne. – Unused: Murphy, Gray