Sean O’Connor reports from Tallaght Stadium
The points were shared in Monday’s Dublin Derby, as an error by replacement goalkeeper Stephen McGuiness denied the Gypsies a third Dublin derby win in a row.
It was everything you wanted in a Dublin derby. Goals, red cards, howlers, and heated exchanges. Liam Burt’s first half effort gave the visitors the lead after coming out of the blocks slowly.
It was a disastrous end to the first half for the Hoops as Roberto Lopes was shown red minutes for a professional foul on Promise Omochere.
After being handed a last-minute start after James Talbot was injured in the warm up, second choice goalkeeper McGuiness had a moment to forget with 20 minutes remaining. Richie Towell’s speculative effort appeared to be routine for the ‘keeper, but he totally fumbled the save and watched the ball loop over him and into the net for the equaliser.
Coming into the derby, the Hoops sat 12 points ahead at the top of the SSE Airtricity League following last week's 2-0 win over Sligo Rovers. After their impressive European exploits over the summer, Bohemians league form had stuttered somewhat, and now find themselves in a fierce race for a top four spot among four other sides.
Georgie Kelly’s last-minute penalty rescued a point for Keith Long’s side last Friday but he wasn’t part of Keith Long’s match day squad for this Monday game and Ireland under 21 international Ross Tierney was another notable absentee.
The derby began at a frantic pace. 4,000 Hoops supporters made their presence felt and gave the visitors a hostile welcome only fitting for a Dublin derby although there were no away tickets were sold by Rovers for this game.
The first chance of the evening came to Dylan Watts, who also scored in last April’s derby. Watts played a brilliant one-two with Towell before his effort was cleared for a corner.
After being under the cosh for the opening ten minutes, Bohemians began to get a foothold in the game. Ciaran Kelly’s terrific long ball to Ali Coote was their first chance of note, but the Scot couldn't get his shot away. Danny Mandroiu had a free kick soon after, but the delivery was poor.
The visitors had two terrific chances in two minutes on the half hour mark. Liam Burt volleyed just wide after a superb through ball by Keith Ward. A minute after, a short free-kick routine found 19-year-old Dawson Devoy, whose effort was heading for the top corner until Alan Mannus clawed it to safety.
It was third time lucky for Bohs though, as they took the lead on 37 minutes. Keith Ward ran to the end line and squared to an unmarked Burt at the far post. The 22-year-old tapped in from close range as the visitors took the lead.
It went from bad to worse for the hosts five minutes later. Cape Verde international Lopes was shown a red card for a challenge on Omochere. It was the third red card shown by referee Neil Doyle in the last two derbies, after he sent off Kelly and Finn in the FAI Cup tie in August.
Barry Cotter had the first chance of the second half, but his 30-yard effort went wide. Cotter dropped into left back as Stephen Bradley went with a flat back four as Finn slotted into a more orthodox right back position as the Hoops dealt with Lopes’ dismissal.
Mandroiu struck the post not long after, but the ex-Bohs man strayed offside.
Just before the hour mark, Burt made yet another fantastic run through the middle and found Coote who shot just wide of the target. It was a golden opportunity to go two goals ahead. Omochere’s header soon after was just over the bar, before Devoy’s curling effort went wide.
Despite Bohs having the pick of the second half chances, it was the hosts who found an equaliser thanks to Towell’s speculative strike and McGuiness’ error.
Instead of sitting back and being satisfied with a point against the champions, the visitors stepped up and saw more of the ball after the leveller. They earned a succession of corners. Omochere was played through by the goal scorer Burt, but his strike was well saved by Mannus.
Rovers went in search of a winner too. Substitute Greene went close before Finn’s shot from the edge of the box was cleared for a corner.
That grandstand finish almost arrived as Aidomo Emakhu’s volley was brilliantly tipped over by McGuinness. The 17-year-old had two further chances to win the derby for the Hoops, shooting wide before his one-on-one effort was superbly saved again.
That proved to be the final action of the evening as Neil Doyle blew for full-time, after a thrilling Dublin derby.
Rovers now require just six points from their remaining five games to retain their league title. Bohemians remain in fifth, two points behind Derry City and three ahead of Drogheda.
On Saturday, the champions travel to Daire Doyle’s relegated Longford Town, while up next for the Gypsies is an FAI Cup semi-final on Friday. They host Marc Bircham’s Waterford in Dalymount, as they aim to make the final for the first time since 2008.
Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Sean Hoare, Sean Gannon, Roberto Lopes; Ronan Finn, Barry Cotter (Sean Kavanagh 87), Daniel Mandroiu (Neil Farrugia 65), Gary O'Neill (Chris McCann 39), Richie Towell, Dylan Watts (Aaron Greene 65); Rory Gaffney (Aidomo Emakhu 65).
Subs not used: Leon Pohls, Lee Grace, Joey O'Brien.
Booked: Chris McCann (78)
Sent off: Roberto Lopes (42)
Bohemians: Stephen McGuinness; Ciaran Kelly, Rory Feely, Rob Cornwall, Anto Breslin; Keith Ward (Jamie Mullins 71), Dawson Devoy, Ali Coote (Roland Idowu 79), Liam Burt, Keith Buckley; Promise Omochere.
Subs not used: Enda Minogue, Tyreke Wilson, Andy Lyons, Sean Grehan, James McManus, Conor Levingston, Cole Kiernan.
Sent off: None
Referee: Neil Doyle
extratime.com Player of the Match: Liam Burt (Bohemians)