A James Chambers penalty in the 65th minute for Shamrock Rovers cancelled out an earlier goal by Sligo Rovers' Eoin Doyle as both sides shared the honours in Showgrounds.
After the game was delayed for eight minutes due to congestion at the turnstiles, it burst into life as Shamrock Rovers dominated possession from the off but still allowed Eoin Doyle an opportunity to score in the first five minutes. The young winger found himself with the ball in the opposition area in the midst of a scramble but Alan Mannus snuffed out the opportunity.
Sligo Rovers appeared to suffer stage-fright as they misplacing passes and gave away possession rather cheaply at times during the first half. The Bit ‘O’ Red spent much of the opening forty five minutes camped in their half inviting the Hoops onto them. Despite this, their counter-attacking football was far more effective than Shamrock Rovers dominant play without a figurehead to give the ball to.
Eoin Doyle threatened from a free on the eighth minute, while Sean O'Connor got Shamrock Rovers' first shot on target for the 2010 season on the 15th minute when his low shot was dealt with easily by Richard Brush in the Sligo goal. Doyle again was involved in the build up of a good team move when his one two with Matthew Blinkhorn nearly saw Blinkhorn open his goalscoring account for the season, but his lob was just over. Both sides then traded chances with each other in the space of seconds as Graham Barrett was denied in a one-on-one situation by Richard Brush while Dan Murray's last ditch tackle disrupted Blinkhorn enough for the English striker to send the ball just wide of the Hoops’ goal.
It was Doyle who would haunt his former club though on the 22nd minute when he opened the scoring. After the ball was half cleared from a Sligo Rovers corner to Richie Ryan, the ball was delivered back into the box. The cross was perfect, floating over everyone in the area except Doyle who was lurking at the back post and headed in the ball to send the Showgrounds into hysterics.
The remainder of the first half was played out with last year's runners-up dominating play but being quite poor in their execution of actually trying get a goal. Although the pressure was piled on by their midfield, the Sligo defence held firm.
The resumption of the game saw a different Sligo side emerge from the dressing room, one that was much more attacking than the one who entered it. Within minutes they troubled the Hoop's goal several times, with Blinkhorn being the focal point of Sligo's attacks. He provided both Danny Ventre and Eoin Doyle opportunities to score from identical positions but neither were converted. Sligo came close to going two up on the 55th minute when Richie Ryan's shot from outside the area was tipped onto the bar by Mannus, who made a superb save.
The substitution of Dessie Baker for Stephen Bradley gave Shamrock Rovers' attacks purpose and someone to aim the ball to. Baker caused problems for the Sligo defence and contributed to the goal they got on the 66th minute.
Baker was hauled down outside the box by Peers and referee Anthony Buttimer awarded a penalty as the resulting free was adjudged to have been handled inside the box. Chambers stepped up and sent the penalty to Brush's right to bring the game level.
From there on in, it was anyone's game and either side could have snatched the points. The game ebbed and flowed, but chances were sparse. Billy Dennehy had two chances for Shamrock Rovers, while Blinkhorn or Doninger could have snatched it late on for Sligo.
Sligo Rovers: Brush; Whelan, Peers, Keane, Davoren; McCabe (Marshall 88), Ventre (C), Ryan (O'Grady 71), Doyle; Blinkhorn, Amond (Doninger 71).
Subs not used: Kelly, Almeida.
Booked: Ryan, Whelan, Peers, Doyle.
Shamrock Rovers: Mannus; Flynn, Murray (C), Price, Murphy; Bradley (Baker 57 (Kavanagh 66)), Rice, Chambers, O'Connor, Dennehy; Barrett (Cahill 83).
Subs not used: Duggan, Stevens.
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Matthew Blinkhorn (Sligo Rovers)
Referee: Anthony Buttimer (Cork).