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Dublin derby draw does neither Pat's nor Rovers any favours

Shamrock Rovers and St Patrick’s Athletic both lost ground in the title race on Monday night.

Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

St Patrick’s Athletic 0

Shamrock Rovers 0

Niall Kelly reports from Richmond Park

SHAMROCK ROVERS AND Saint Patrick’s Athletic had to settle for a point apiece after Monday night’s refixed Dublin derby ended in a scoreless draw.

Mikey Drennan squandered a glorious opportunity to take all three points for the visitors but he blazed over with the goal at his mercy in the first half.

And neither side could find a breakthrough in game that sees them both lose ground on their title rivals.

For Rovers, it was the sixth draw of a frustratingly inconsistent season — more than any other side in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division. The gap between the third-placed Hoops and champions Dundalk now stands at an intimidating eight points, with Pat’s a further two adrift in fifth.

Clear-cut chances were few and far between on the night when Keith Fahey made his inglorious return to Richmond Park. The former Ireland international nearly conjured a piece of match-winning magic at the death but Luke Byrne’s diving header from his free kick was just wide.

Fahey isn’t the first to cross the divide between these two rivals, and he won’t be the last, but when you’re elevated to the demi-god status he once possessed around these parts, the fall from grace was always likely to be that bit more severe.

The league’s bizarre insistence on carrying suspensions between seasons saw him sit out Rovers’ 1-0 win when these sides met on opening weekend, and some of his public comments since were always likely to rile Saints fans even further.

His reception in Inchicore was as sharp as you might expect, and his handful of uncharacteristically sloppy touches early on were par for the course in a game that didn’t see its first real chance until the 25th minute.

The visitors had the better of the scrappy opening but when Patrick Cregg finally found sight on goal, a deflection took all the sting out of his shot which bobbled harmlessly to Conor O’Malley.

Rovers should have taken the lead in the 34th minute but Drennan, who has led the line reliably in recent weeks, miscued horribly. O’Malley scuffed his clearance straight to Stephen McPhail in midfield and as Rovers swept forward in support, Gavin Brennan squared to Drennan who blazed over the bar from 12 yards when it would have been easier to score.

Both sides had chances again before the break as the game opened up. Ciaran Kilduff headed just wide on 38 minutes after outjumping Craig Hyland, while Fahey had a half-chance on the stroke of half-time. He nicked the ball away from Lee Desmond with a lovely first touch and tried to outsmart O’Malley with an early shot, but his shot spun away to the left.

Pat’s started the second half on the front foot and Conor Kenna had to be alert to get his body in front of Kilduff and turn away a teasing Chris Forrester cross.

Conan Byrne was next to test Hyland when he cut in from the right wing shortly before the hour mark but the Rovers keeper got down smartly to save.

As the rain started to sheet down, Fenlon sent on Danny North to help Drennan in search of a breakthrough.

The final chance fell to an unlikely source when Byrne’s diving header flew just wide in the last minute of normal time.

St Pat’s: Conor O’Malley, James Chambers, Lee Desmond, Sean Hoare, Ian Bermingham (capt), Greg Bolger (Conor McCormack 55), Conan Byrne, Aaron Greene, Killian Brennan, Chris Forrester (Sam Verdon 80), Ciaran Kilduff.

Shamrock Rovers: Craig Hyland, Simon Madden, Conor Kenna (capt), Max Blanchard, Patrick Cregg, Stephen McPhail (Ryan Brennan 50), Keith Fahey, Gavin Brennan (Kieran Marty Waters 71), Brandon Miele (Danny North 79), Mikey Drennan.

Referee: David McKeon

Attendance: 2,591

– First published 21.43, 11 May

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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