Shamrock Rovers remain unbeaten in 2015 after a scoreless draw against Derry City at Brandywell which saw Keith Fahey receive a late red card for a second bookable offence.
Derry City and Shamrock Rovers cancelled each other out in every aspect of the game that saw clear cut goal attempts at a premium. Keith Fahey received his marching orders after the referee adjudged the Dubliner to have dived inside the Derry box.
The opening minutes of the game were tentative with both sides looking to get a foothold in the game and the first real chance came the way of the home side after Cillian Morrison played a ball into the box which was subsequently cleared by Rovers.
Most of the play, however, was in the middle of the park with few chances coming the way of either side. Patrick McEleney looked to create something for the Candystripes on 16 minutes, picking the ball up on the half way line and going on a blitzing run towards goal, beating six men in the process. But the finish from 20 yards out was weak and easily saved by Craig Hyland in the visitors’ goal.
The next opportunity fell the way of Shamrock Rovers in the 26th minute. A free kick on the far side of the pitch but the delivery was poor and was easily cleared by Shane McEleney for Derry City.
Patrick McEleney had a free kick for the home side in the 30th minute after Barry McNamee was bundled over 25 yards out. It was whipped in with power and pace and bounced off a few players from both sides before nestling in the grasp of Hyland.
The 37th minute saw McEleney play a through ball to Barry McNamee who was about to pull the trigger when a brilliant tackle from Dave Webster denied the midfielder a real shot on goal.
In the second half Rovers pressed the Derry back-line and it nearly bore fruit on the 59th minute when a brilliantly chipped in ball behind the Derry defence was just about intercepted by Shane McEleney, denying what looked to be a certain chance on goal.
The next real chance fell to Derry when Pat McEleney went on a run from the halfway line which saw him reach the Rovers box unopposed but Hyland came to the rescue of his team, grasping the ball from the feet of the onrushing winger. Derry continued to pile on the pressure, gaining a corner in the 72nd minute but the ball into the box was a tame effort that was easily cleared by Shamrock Rovers.
Calls for a penalty rang out across Brandywell in the 72nd minute when a blitzing run towards goal by McNamee ended with Webster having to come to his sides rescue via a hard tackle. Referee Paul McLaughlin adjudged him to have got the ball and waved play on.
Derry continued to battle hard and it was backs to the wall defending for the visitors who were unable to get a grasp of the game.
The game continued to be a real test in the middle of the park for both sides and in the 89th minute Keith Fahey advanced into the Derry box and fell softly which McLaughlin decided was simulation and off he went to a chorus of boos from the home support.
The sending off heartened Derry who tried to use the six minutes of injury time and the extra man to carve out what would have been an important three points, They grew in confidence and threatened the Shamrock Rovers goal on a number of occasions but were unable to breach the Rovers goal. The best chance came from Aaron Barry after a low effort from 20 yards out was just wide of the post, much to the relief of Hyland.
Overall a draw was probably a fair result which left Derry City in seventh place, 11 points off the leaders, and Shamrock Rovers in fourth, only four points off leaders Dundalk.
Derry City: Ger Doherty; Seamus Sharkey, Ryan McBride, Shane McEleney, Aaron Barry; Phillip Lowry, Patrick McEleney (Seanan Clucas 85), Mark Timlin, Barry McNamee; Anthony Elding, Cillian Morrison (Ryan Curran 77).
Subs not used: Shaun Patton (gk), Nathan Boyle, Shaun Kelly, Sean Houston, Dean Jarvis.
Bookings: S McEleney (21), Sharkey (26), Morrison ( 37), Timlin (90+3).
Shamrock Rovers: Craig Hyland; Simon Madden, David Webster, Conor Kenna, David O'Connor; Gavin Brennan, Pat Cregg, Ryan Brennan (Stephen McPhail 64), Keith Fahey, Sean O'Connor (Brandon Mile 82); Michael Drennan.
Subs not used: Barry Murphy (gk), Maxine Blanchard, Gary McCabe, Kieran Marty Waters, Gareth McCaffrey.
Bookings: Cregg (45+1), Fahey (72).
Sent Off: Fahey (89).
Referee: Paul McLaughlin.
Extratime Man of the Match: Patrick McEleney (Derry City).