Shamrock Rovers' Jack Byrne celebrates after scoring the winning penalty. Ben Whitley/INPHO

Memorable return for Jack Byrne as Shamrock Rovers beat Pat's on penalties

The Ireland international scored the winning spot-kick after a tight President’s Cup final.

Shamrock Rovers 1

St Pat’s 1

Shamrock Rovers win 5-4 on penalties

IRELAND INTERNATIONAL Jack Byrne enjoyed a memorable evening in his first competitive outing since re-signing for Shamrock Rovers, scoring the winning penalty as the Hoops beat Pat’s 5-4 on penalties.

The late drama was in contrast to a 90 minutes that was less than thrilling, as Rovers edged their Dublin rivals in a game of few clear-cut chances.

The match finished 1-1 in normal time.

Former Shamrock Rovers player Eoin Doyle’s opportunistic finish early in the second half was cancelled out by another tap-in from Ronan Finn.

It was a game that didn’t see the best of either side, with some key players unavailable or on the bench, while a tight game was impacted by windy conditions at Tallaght.

Nevertheless, both these teams will go into the new season full of optimism.

Rovers are looking to secure their third title in a row, and strengthened in the winter, having added Byrne and Andy Lyons to their squad.

And perhaps more importantly, with the exception of Joey O’Brien who joined Shelbourne in a coaching capacity, they managed to retain all of their first-team regulars from last season.

Last year’s runners-up and FAI Cup winners Pat’s, meanwhile, made a couple of eye-catching signings, most notably Eoin Doyle, who scored over 100 goals during a decade-long stint across the water before returning home recently.

Doyle was one of six new Saints signings making their competitive debut tonight, alongside Joseph Anang, Mark Doyle, Joe Redmond, Jack Scott and Anto Breslin.

James Abankwah, the 18-year-old centre-back who recently joined Udinese but will stay at Pat’s until the completion of his Leaving Cert in the summer, also featured from the outset.

While Lyons was out with a minor knock, Byrne was able to make his second competitive debut for Rovers following his return in the off-season, having enjoyed an impressive two-year stint at the club during the 2019 and 2020 campaigns.

After an uneventful, scrappy opening 10 minutes, Mark Doyle threatened to bring the game to life with a driving run through midfield, but his shot from distance was comfortably saved by Alan Mannus.

However, fans had to wait until the 16th minute for the first clear-cut chance of the match to arrive. Eoin Doyle nearly made a swift impact, robbing the ball off Sean Hoare as the defender tried to play it back to the goalkeeper and squaring it to his namesake Mark, whose scuffed first-time effort drew cheers from the home crowd.

The former Bolton star was involved again just after the half-hour mark, as he was played through by Chris Forrester, but the new man’s finish wasn’t accurate enough and Mannus got down well to make the save.

From the ensuing Darragh Burns corner, Scott’s header was cleared off the line by Dylan Watts before Mark Doyle’s follow up was saved by Mannus.

Rovers had barely created a chance as half-time approached, but they finally did so in the 43rd minute. Byrne threaded a ball through for Danny Mandroiu, but the attacker’s shot from a tight angle was saved with relative ease by Anang.

As the half-time whistle sounded though, Pat’s, having created the vast majority of the game’s few chances, will feel they should have been at least one goal to the good.

Rovers, despite enjoying the majority of possession and territory, lacked sharpness in the final third and looked like a team still very much in pre-season mode.

president-michael-d-higgins-in-attendance-at-the-game President Michael D. Higgins in attendance at the game. Tom Maher / INPHO Tom Maher / INPHO / INPHO

The Saints got the goal they deserved five minutes after the break.

It started with great work from Mark Doyle, who turned Sean Gannon inside out before putting a dangerous ball into the areas.

It fell to Jamie Lennon, whose shot was parried by Mannus into the path of Eoin Doyle, and the striker made no mistake with his finish.

Doyle was involved again moments later, forcing a good save from Mannus with a low shot from the edge of the area, as the visitors continued to look the superior side.

Rovers, meanwhile, seemed flat, and Stephen Bradley made a triple substitution as his side searched for an equaliser — Danny Mandroiu, Dylan Watts and Aidomo Emakhu were replaced by Rory Gaffney, Richie Towell and Graham Burke.

Out of nothing though, the hosts drew level. Neil Farrugia showed a good burst of acceleration down the left, and his low cross was spilt by Anang and skipper Ronan Finn was on hand to capitalise from close range.

It was a moment to forget for the 21-year-old goalkeeper, who joined on loan from West Ham in the off-season.

With 19 minutes remaining there was a worrying moment for both Pat’s and Udinese, as Abankwah took a knock while making a sliding challenge. After receiving treatment, the defender hobbled back onto the pitch before being substituted moments later.

Rovers had all the momentum at this point and were looking like the more likely team to claim a winner.

Pat’s, however, were not settling for penalties, and Chris Forrester threatened with a low shot from the edge of the area that didn’t trouble Mannus unduly.

A number of substitutions disrupted the flow of the game and it ultimately petered out as penalties loomed.

With no extra time in this competition, the game went straight to a shootout.

Chris Forrester was the only player to see his spot-kick saved, as Alan Mannus got down well to his left.

Eoin Doyle, Mark Doyle, Tunde Owolabi and Adam O’Reilly all converted for Pat’s, while Richie Towell, Graham Burke, Sean Hoare, Gary O’Neill and Jack Byrne made no mistake for Rovers, with the Ireland international registering the decisive spot-kick to send the majority of fans home happy.

Shamrock Rovers: 1. Alan Mannus 2. Sean Gannon 3. Sean Hoare 5. Lee Grace 7. Dylan Watts (Gaffney 63) 8. Ronan Finn (Cotter 82) 14. Danny Mandroiu (Towell) 16. Gary O’Neill 23. Neil Farrugia 29. Jack Byrne 38. Aidomo Emakhu (Burke 63)

Subs: 25. Leon Pohls 4. Roberto Lopes 6. Barry Cotter 10. Graham Burke 17. Richie Towell 20. Rory Gaffney 24. Sean Carey 26. Chris McCann 34. Conan Noonan

St Patrick’s Athletic: 1. Joseph Anang 2. Jack Scott 4. Joe Redmond 6. Jamie Lennon (McClelland 86) 8. Chris Forrester 9. Eoin Doyle 14. Mark Doyle 15. Billy King (O’Reilly 60) 17. Darragh Burns (Owolabi 76) 19. Anto Breslin 20. James Abankwah (Grivosti 76)

Subs: 25. Josh Keely 3. Ian Bermingham 5. Tom Grivosti 11 Jason McClelland 16. Adam O’Reilly 18. Ben McCormack 31. Kian Corbally 33. Kyle Robinson 45. Tunde Owolabi

Referee: Robert Harvey (Dublin).

Attendance: 5,426

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