Dundalk 0-1 Shamrock Rovers
A deflected Stephen Rice effort after eleven minutes gave Shamrock Rovers three points in a dramatic game at Oriel Park on Tueday evening. In a match that was played almost totally duing a torrential downpour, Dundalk totally dominated possession and were left baffled as to how they finished up empty handed.
Sean Connor was unable to field his captain Thomas Heary with Shaun Kelly returning to the starting eleven. Tiarnan Mulvenna kept his place ahead of fit again Declan O’Brien . Dundalk forced a number of corners in the opening minutes and George O’Callaghan shot wide from long distance. However, it was Rovers who broke the deadlock after 11 minutes. Stephen Bradley’s free-kick was only cleared to the edge of the box for Stephen Rice to shoot through a crowd of players past Bennion with the aid of a deflection.
Dundalk had a strong shout for a penalty after 14 minutes when Darren Mansaram was hauled to the ground as he was about to shoot by Sean Webb. Rovers should have gone further ahead after 23 minutes when Nathan Twigg split the Dundalk defence to set Greg Cameron through on goal. Luckily for Dundalk, Cameron’s chip over the advancing Bennion went into the side netting. Dundalk had a glorious opportunity to equalise after 37 minutes when Shaun Kelly’s looping effort from the edge of the box was fumbled by Roverskeeper Robert Duggan. Chris Turner sprinted in to capitalise but appeared to slip at the vital moment allowing Duggan to get a hand to the ball. Mansaram headed wide shortly afterwards before Stephen Bradley picked up his second yellow card for dissent. The second half ended with both sets of players squaring up to each other in the Rovers penalty box following a late challenge by Chris Turner.
The second half was one of the most one sided encounters ever seen at Oriel. Shamrock Rovers diverted all energy to preserving their one-goal advantage. Duggan saved well from a misdirected cross by Mansaram within the first thirty seconds of the half. On the hour mark, Michael Daly was denied by a last gasp challenge as he was about to convert at the near post. After 67 minutes Daly went over closer when O’Callaghan’s corner found him unmarked at the edge of the six yard box. Unfortunately for Daly his left footed effort bounced high off the pitch and was superbly tipped away by Duggan. Declan O’Brien, who came on for Tiarnan Mulvenna, was next to test Duggan after 73 minutes when Harpal Singh set him up for a shot from 20 yards that the Rovers keeper again did very well to save. O’Brien also tried his luck with a looping header that failed to find the target. Duggan also saved from a O’Callaghan header while late on Simon Kelly fired high and wide from long range. For forty-five minutes, Rovers defended superbly the constant waves of attack from Dundalk. A huge amout of effort in terrible conditions for Dundalk. Hopefully Dundalk will have more luck on Friday in Bray.
Dundalk: Chris Bennion, Shuan Kelly, Dave Rogers, Simon Kelly, Liam Burns, Chris Turner, Michael Daly, George O’Callaghan, Harpal Singh, Tiarnan Mulvenna, Darren Mansaram. Subs: Declan O’Brien for Mulvenna
Shamrock Rovers: Robert Duggan, Corey Treacy, Ian Bermingham, Daragh Maguire, Sean Webb, Shane Robinson, Stephen Rice, Stephen Bradley, Greg Cameron, Gary Twigg, Padraig Amond.Subs: Ollie Cahill for Amond. Tadgh Purcell for Twigg.