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Dublin: 2 °C Tuesday 25 February, 2020

Battling Bohemians earn Tallaght draw as Rovers lose ground in title chase

Trevor Croly will be disappointed at his side’s lack of creativity.

Sean O'Connor avoids Bohs' Anto Murphy's sliding tackle.
Sean O'Connor avoids Bohs' Anto Murphy's sliding tackle.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Shamrock Rovers 0-0 Bohemians

AT THE END of a week in which Dermot Keely’s criticism of “42,000 morons” sparked another bout of League of Ireland soul-searching, this was a poor advertisement for the domestic game.

Of all the Dublin derbies, Rovers and Bohs traditionally carries the most edge and spice but this started slowly and continued at the same pace before meandering to its scoreless conclusion.

The Hoops came into this game on the back of 1-0 wins against Derry and Athlone which lifted them to third place without ever really impressing. For much of the second half, it looked as though a single goal would be their antidote again.

Luke Byrne with Derek Pender, Daniel Byrne and Jason Byrne Shamrock Rovers' Luke Byrne with Derek Pender, Daniel Byrne and Jason Byrne of Bohemians. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Bohs had the better chances in the opening period, and forced a fine double save from Barry Murphy, but after that only one team ever looked like winning. Ciaran Kilduff should have sealed all three points four minutes from time but he shot straight at Dean Delany’s legs after a swift attack by Sean O’Connor and Ronan Finn.

The big striker had a couple of half-chances to break the deadlock in the first half as well — one saved by Delany’s outstretched boot, the other an angled volley which went a yard wide.

Referee Padraigh Sutton seemed determined to set the tone early on, and he booked Luke Byrne in the third minute for little more than a robust 50/50 with Craig Walsh. Rovers’ young left full is the most recent player to cross the divide from north to south, and was subjected to relentless boos when the sides met at Dalymount Park earlier this season.

He was on far friendlier turf this time around, though he was struck by a bottle when taking a throw-in in front of the visiting fans in the first half. That brief moment of crowd interference was all that Sutton had to worry about. This was far from a classic.

Bohs arrived in Tallaght with just three points from their last seven games in the league, and earlier this week manager Owen Heary stressed the need to convert chances into goals.

Rovers’ back four — with 19-year-old Rob Cornwall and 22-year-old David O’Connor replacing the vastly more experienced, but injured, Conor Kenna and Jason McGuinness at centre-half — coughed up a couple in the first half.

But Karl Moore shot into the side-netting after the lively Walsh sucked in Cornwall out wide, and then Steven Beattie rushed his effort after picking O’Connor’s pocket for possession.

Murphy’s instincts kept out Bohs on the stroke of half-time. He first denied Jason Byrne who touched Walsh’s zipping cross towards goal and then with a second, more instinctive reaction blocked Moore as he followed up the rebound. Byrne had another chance three minutes after the restart but skewed his shot high and wide without troubling the Rovers keeper.

As Bohs retreated, Trevor Croly was able to commit men forward. Simon Madden hesitated over one chance not long after the hour mark, allowing Delany to smother the danger, while a Finn piledriver snuck just wide of the post a moment later.

The crowd grew edgy and after Kilduff let his late opportunity slip, the final whistle was greeted by a smattering of boos.

SHAMROCK ROVERS: Murphy, Madden, Cornwall, D O’Connor, Byrne, Finn, Robinson (c), McPhail (Brennan 79), McCabe (S O’Connor 73), Kilduff, Zayed (Kelly 83).

Subs: Hyland, Kenna, Brennan, S O’Connor, Waters, Sheppard, Kelly.

BOHEMIANS: Delany, Murphy, D Byrne, Price, Pender, Mulcahy (c, Lopes 42), Walsh, Moore (Devaney 76), Kavanagh, Beattie, J Byrne.

Subs: Moore, Lopes, Traynor, Devaney, Hyland, Buckley, McEvoy.

Referee: Padraigh Sutton

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Niall Kelly

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