Patrick O Connor reports from Tallaght Stadium
A thoroughly enjoyable encounter ended all square at Tallaght Stadium with a 1-1 draw a fair reflection of the contest between champions Shamrock Rovers and Finn Harps.
Harps were more than happy to go back to Donegal with a point gained after falling behind to Aaron Greene’s eighth-minute strike and they were very sluggish for the first 15 minutes.
Rovers, on the other hand, dominated possession for most of the game but missed a chance to go back above Sligo Rovers at the top of the table thanks to Adam Foley's equaliser.
Much to the frustration of their supporters, all 1,000 allowed inside the ground as part of a pilot, the home overdid the intricate patterns and paid the price for not adding to their early goal.
The Hoops were very much on the front foot in the opening stages of the game and it was no surprise when they did take the lead through Greene.
They got a lot of assistance from the Harps defence, however, some very poor defending and ball control by Kosovar Sadiki led to Rory Gaffney being able to stride through on goal.
All the striker had to do was draw Harps keeper McGinley and square the ball to Greene, who was left with a simple tap in.
Harps were lethargic during the opening phases of the match and were lucky not to fall further behind during this period of Rovers dominance.
They did settle into the game after about 25 minutes, however, and contained Rovers for the rest of the half.
They could even have had an equaliser when Will Seymore’s shot seven minutes before the beak almost beat Alan Mannus in the Rovers goal.
Ollie Horgan’s team came out refreshed for the second half and took the game to Rovers through the vision of Barry McNamee in midfield and the pace of winger Karl O Sullivan on the wing.
Their positive approach paid dividends ten minutes after the restart when a great through ball by McNamee released Foley in the inside right channel.
Foley took the ball to the endline before squeezing it past Mannus for the equaliser.
That goal certainly rocked Rovers but it also reflected the tenacity of the visitors and their ability to recover from the earlier setback.
Ollie Horgan made a treble substitution on the with 12 minutes remaining and the fresh legs of Sean Boyd, Mark Russell and Ryan Connolly allowed Harps to deal with the barrage of attacks Rovers launched.
Rovers were camped in the Harps box for the closing stages of the game but, in keeping with their approach for most of the match, they couldn’t find the final ball.
They moved the ball side to side but lacked the ability to create chances, to the frustration of their supporters and manager Stephen Bradley as they had to settle for a point.
Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Lee Grace, Sean Hoare, Liam Scales; Sean Gannon, Gary O Neill (Dean Williams 85), Chris McCann, Max Murphy (Graham Burke 60); Danny Mandroiu, Rory Gaffney, Aaron Greene
Subs not used: Leon Pohls (gk), Adam Wells, Dean McMenamy, Aidomo Emakhu, Darragh Nugent, Conan Noonan,
Booked: Sean Hoare (27), Max Murphy (47).
Finn Harps: Mark McGinty; Ethan Boyle, Shane McEleney, Kosovar Sadiki, David Webster; Mark Coyle, Will Seymore, Barry McNamee (Ryan Connolly 78); AdamFoley (Mark Russell 78), Karl O Sullivan, Tunde Owolabi (Sean Boyd 78).
Subs not used: Luke McNicholas (gk) John Dunleavy, Conor Barry, Ryan Rainey, Joel Bradley Walsh, Tony McNamee.
Booked: Ethan Boyle (7), Mark Coyle (42), Kosovar Sadiki (63).
Referee: Ben Connolly.
Attendance: 1,000 (official).
Extratime.com Player of the Match: Barry McNamee (Finn Harps).