Dave Donnelly reports from Dalymount Park
Aaron Greene scored a last-gasp winner as Shamrock Rovers got their season off to a winning start against rivals Bohemians in a torrent of wind and rain at Dalymount Park.
The former Gypsies striker was in the right place to capitalise in the third minute of injury time after Aaron McEneff had seen his shot palmed away by James Talbot.
Bohemians saw full-back Andy Lyons sent off midway through the second half for a second yellow card but they looked set to hold on despite being second-best throughout.
That a big League of Ireland game would be better remembered for shambolic off-field events is perhaps not a massive shock but, for once, the footballing side was blameless.
The Gardaí’s heavy-handed decision to request the first Dublin derby of the season be moved to Saturday afternoon, in apparent imitation of Glasgow authorities, never made much sense.
They could hardly have predicted the onset of Storm Denis, which put the game in doubt right up until kick-off.
However, the decision to move a game from Friday night to Saturday afternoon on safety grounds, only to see it take place in monsoon conditions, underlines the foolishness of the enterprise.
What should have been the televised kick-off of a new season of optimism wound up without a broadcaster as RTÉ rightly put the safety of their staff first and pulled the broadcast.
The pitch did look in decent nick and the game went ahead on that basis – until the heavens opened up in the 20th minute and it quickly cut up and became visibly heavy underfoot.
By then, Bohs already had two names in the referee’s notebook – Lyons for a dive in the box and Keith Buckley for cleaning out Ronan Finn.
In spite of the conditions, Rovers made most of the early running but Greene spurned a couple of half-chances and his brilliant diagonal ball set up Ronan Finn for a chance he should have done better with.
The best chance of the half fell to Hoops defender Lee Grace after James Talbot missed his punch from a corner, but he sliced his shot wide of the open target.
Bohs’ best effort of the half came from Keith Ward’s 30-yard free-kick, after Graham Burke had been caught in possession, but it lacked the power to beat Alan Mannus.
The Gypsies came out early for the second half and looked set to take the lead within a minute as Buckley teed up Kris Twardek, but the Canada international couldn’t pick out the bottom corner/
Burke and McEneff forced low stops from Talbot, while Byrne also called the keeper into action, but the game turned when Lyons was shown a second yellow for a professional foul on Burke.
Rovers, who lost Joey O’Brien to what appeared to be a shoulder injury earlier in the half, brought on ex-Bohs playmaker Dylan Watts and Neil Farrugia in a bid to make the extra man count.
Andre Wright had a chance to win it late on for the Gypsies but he pulled his shot wide, and the Bohs resistance eventually faltered in extra time as Greene smashed into the empty net.
Bohemians: James Talbot; Andy Lyons, Rob Cornwall, James Finnerty, Anto Breslin; Keith Buckley, Keith Ward (Michael Barker 68), JJ Lunney; Luke Wade-Slater (Danny Mandroiu 63), Kris Twardek, Andre Wright.
Subs not used: Stephen McGuinnes (gk), Dan Casey, Ross Tierney, Dawson Devoy, Glen McCauley.
Booked: Andy Lyons (2, 65), Keith Buckley (5), James Finnerty (32), Luke Wade-Slater (63), Danny Mandroiu (71).
Sent off: Andy Lyons (65).
Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Joey O’Brien (Liam Scales 56), Roberto Lopes, Lee Grace; Ronan Finn, Gary O’Neill, Jack Byrne, Aaron McEneff, Danny Lafferty (Neil Farrugia 75); Graham Burke (Dylan Watts 75), Aaron Greene.
Subs not used: Leon Pohls (gk), Greg Bolger, Brandon Kavanagh, Dean Williams.
Booked: Liam Scales (76).
Referee: Rob Hennessy.
Attendance: 3,500 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Jack Byrne (Shamrock Rovers).