Shamrock Rovers and Sligo Rovers drew 1-1 in an exciting game at the Tallaght Stadium on Friday night. Karl Sheppard's late goal was enough to earn the Hoops a point after David Cawley had earlier given Sligo the lead.
In a first half that was played in an almost constant drizzle the champions had the first chance of the game after three minutes. Pascal Millien crossed from the right and Anthony Elding connected with it but fired his effort wide of the target.
There wasn't much to choose between the sides in the early stages . However as the half went on the home team began to have most of the play.
In the 25th minute there was some sustained pressure from Shamrock Rovers. Sligo failed to properly clear a corner. The ball broke to Ronan Finn whose shot was bravely blocked by Evan McMillan. After a brief scramble it was James Chamber's turn to have a shot but this time Alan Keane was in the way for the visitors.
In the 35th minute Trevor Crolly's side created their first clear cut chance of the game. Gary McCabe played it to his right to Karl Sheppard who crossed it first time and found the onrushing Stephen Rice but the Shamrock Rovers midfielder could only steer his shot straight at Gary Rogers.
Just before half time Trevor Crolly's team created their best chance of the half. Karl Sheppard got the better of Gavin Peers down the left and crossed for McCabe. Shamrock Rover's number seven was in space inside the penalty area but he could only shoot straight at Rogers in the Sligo goal.
Six minutes into the second half the home side came close again. Ronan Finn linked up very well with Karl Sheppard before Finn had a shot with his left foot which was just wide of the post.
Sligo Rovers took the lead slightly against the run of play in the 55th minute. Barry Murphy over hit his pass to left back Danny Ledwith. Ledwith failed to control the ball properly and under hit his pass back to Murphy. David Cawley raced onto the loose ball and finished it coolly into the back of the net.
The visitors nearly doubled their lead soon after. Billy Dennehy was dispossessed by Alan Keane. Keane played it to Elding who curled a fine shot from the edge of the area which was not too far away.
The home team kept plugging away though and they equalized in the 84th minute. The ball looked to be going out of play but substitute Kieran Kilduff kept it alive and found fellow sub Sean O'Connor who crossed from the left. Jason McGuinness bravely won the header against his former club and found Karl Sheppard who headed from close range.
Straight from the kick off Anthony Elding was sent-off for a foul on Stephen Rice.
The Hoops almost won it in the first minute of injury time. Sean O'Connor crossed from the left and Kilduff got there. His header looked to be going into the corner of the net but the post denied him.
It was a game which produced six bookings, one sending off and plenty of incident. Shamrock Rovers had most of the play and chances but Ian Baraclough's side showed some of the resilience that made them champions last season to hold on for the point.
Shamrock Rovers: Barry Murphy; Pat Sullivan (c), Derek Foran, Jason McGuinness, Danny Ledwith; Billy Dennehy (Sean O'Connor 77), Stephen Rice, Ronan Finn, James Chambers (Ciaran Kilduff 77), Gary McCabe; Karl Sheppard.
Subs not used: Richard Brush, Conor McCormack, Shane Robinson, David Elebert, Alan Kehoe.
Booked: Sullivan (63), Ledwith (88).
Sligo Rovers: Gary Rogers; Alan Keane, Gavin Peers (c), Evan McMillan, Aaron Greene; Pascal Millen (Jeff Henderson 90), Joseph Ndo (Danny Ventre 74), David Cawley, Lee Lynch, Ryan Connolly (Kieran Djilali 46); Anthony Elding.
Subs not used: Liam Martin, Jake Dykes, Hugh McFadden, Marty Owens.
Booked: Ndo (32), E McMillan (42), Cawley (56), Peers (79), Keane (87).
Sent-off: Elding (86).
Referee: Alan Kelly.
Attendance: 3,600 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Man of the match: Jason McGuinness (Shamrock Rovers).