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Dublin: 4°C Wednesday 14 April 2021

Rovers lose ground in quest for European football after feisty Dublin derby draw

The Hoops were reduced to 10 men late on after goalscorer Graham Burke was dished a straight red card.

Image: Tommy Dickson; ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Shamrock Rovers 1

St Patrick’s Athletic 1

Aaron Gallagher reports from Tallaght Stadium

SHAMROCK ROVERS THREW away the opportunity to keep pace with Derry City and Bray Wanderers in the hunt for a European place on Friday night, as a Christy Fagan equalizer and a Graham Burke sending off meant it ended all square in a feisty Dublin derby against St. Patrick’s Athletic.

This fixture served up one of Pat’s just three victories this season when they beat the Hoops 2-1 at Richmond Park, however this time around in Tallaght Stadium Liam Buckley’s side were second best on almost every level inside the opening period, before a second half revival.

A full strength Rovers side which swaggered under the attacking threat composed of Trevor Clarke, Gary Shaw and Brandon Miele – orchestrated by the magnificent Graham Burke – meant chances came in their troves for the hosts.

Pat’s, meanwhile, struggled to find the cutting edge their opponents posed in the final third. Midfielder JJ Lunney, playing on the left wing had chances aplenty. However the contrast in his efforts on goal compared to Burke’s was evident.

The former Notts County midfielder gave Rovers the lead after 18 minutes when he guided his way into the box with delicate dribbling.

Graham Burke celebrates scoring a goal Source: Tommy Dickson; ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Choosing against an easy pass to an unmarked Brandon Miele emerging inside the box, Burke took it upon himself and slotted the ball effortlessly under Conor O’Malley to make it 1-0.

Pat’s were not undone and the derby-nature of the game meant it was always going to be close margins which decided its outcome.

Liam Buckley’s side were gifted the chance to equalize when goalkeeper Tomer Chencinski played a suicide pass to David Webster with his back turned on the edge of his own box.

The defender did not see striker Fagan looming and, after his sharp tackle and Lee Desmond’s quick return of possession, Fagan failed to put the ball in the net with the goal at his entire mercy, rather bobbling an awful effort a metre wide of the post to the dismay of his team-mates.

More chances came Rovers way, including an effort from Ryan Connolly who’s shot from four yards out was blocked down bravely by centre back Gavin Peers in last-ditch fashion.

Pat’s came out in the second half very much to play and, like a light-switch being flicked on, found their way from the darkness to bag a sudden equalizer.

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Christy Fagan celebrates scoring a goal with teammates Source: Tommy Dickson; ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Industrious work by Lunney and Conan Byrne found the ball at Fagan’s feet just inside the penalty area.

With one quick motion trapping the ball and a second swiping it with a jolt of his right boot, Fagan redeemed himself of his earlier miss and rocketed a blistering effort into the top corner, leaving goalkeeper Chencinski with no chance whatsoever of keeping it out.

With the score reading 1-1 the game was on and the derby fever set in motion as Rovers motivated themselves to regain the lead having given it away so cheaply against the run of play.

Stephen Bradley’s side threw everything they could at Pats’ under-fire defence. Chances came their way including a header for Gary Shaw and another shot from range from Miele as Rovers played between the lines of a Pat’s midfield which had lost its shape.

Graham Burke is sent off by Robert Hennessy Source: Tommy Dickson; ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson/INPHO

But just as Rovers looked like grabbing a goal to secure all three points in the final fifteen minutes, their standout performer in attack Burke received a straight red card for a kick on Pat’s midfielder Patrick Cregg.

Down to ten men with their sixth sending off of the campaign, Rovers introduced Michael O’Connor to try and grab victory and while both sides had chances during a manic dying stages, neither could gain the upper hand as it ended all square.

At the mid-season break Rovers continue to occupy fifth, but remain two places outside Derry City in a European place who also have a game in hand. With Galway defeated on the night, Pat’s lift off the bottom of the table into 11th spot.

SHAMROCK ROVERS: Tomer Chencinski, Simon Madden, David Webster, Roberto Lopes, Luke Byrne, Ronan Finn, Ryan Connolly, Brandon Miele (Sean Boyd 84), Trevor Clarke (Darren Meenan 66), Graham Burke, Gary Shaw (Michael O’Connor 79)

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC: Conor O’Malley, Michael Barker, Gavin Peers, Rory Feely, Ian Bermingham, Patrick Cregg, Lee Desmond, Darragh Markey (Kurtis Byrne 84), Jonathan Lunney (Alex O’Hanlon 89), Conan Byrne, Christy Fagan

Referee: Robert Hennessey

About the author:

Aaron Gallagher

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