Bohemians 0 Shamrock Rovers 1
Sent off in the corresponding fixture last year, Aaron Greene delivered the sweetest redemption with a last-gasp winner to seal victory in a storm-struck Dublin derby at Dalymount Park on Saturday afternoon.
In a tight, full-blooded contest in horrendous conditions, Bohemians right back Andy Lyons was sent off for a second booking with 25 minutes to go.
Despite their numerical advantage, a technically more accomplished Rovers struggled to breach the tenacious home defence on what had developed into a quagmire of a pitch.
And just when it seemed Keith Long’s Gypsies would hold out for a share of the spoils, the narrative changed three minutes into added time.
Rovers midfielder Aaron McEneff's low drive was spilled on the greasy surface by goalkeeper James Talbot.
Greene’s striker’s instinct kicked in as he reacted quickest to rifle the loose ball into the roof of the net.
“It was a horrible day, but just nice to get the three points,” said 30-year-old Greene, dismissed in the first half when Rovers lost at the same venue 12 months ago.
“It’s just the first game, so we don’t want to think too much of it. But it’s always nice to come here and win – bragging rights for our fans. It’s a good start to the season.”
The high gusts caused by Storm Dennis forced the cancellation of RTÉ’s scheduled live television coverage of the game as the camera gantry and presentation area were deemed unsafe.
Bohemians’ plans were also disrupted before kick-off with stalwart striker Dinny Corcoran pulling out with a groin issue in the warm-up.
With the strong wind behind them, the home side appealed for a penalty when the marauding Lyons went down inside the area on two minutes.
All the young defender got was a yellow card for simulation which would duly come back to haunt him.
Despite the difficult conditions, Rovers endeavoured to pass the ball with Greene twice getting a sight of goal before the Bohemians defence was relieved to see Lee Grace shoot wide after they failed to clear a Jack Byrne corner.
With rain coming down in a torrent, Bohemians threaten for the first time 25 minutes in; new signing Kris Twardek seeing his drive bravely blocked away for a corner by Roberto Lopes.
That sparked the home side's best spell of the game with Keith Ward forcing an agile save from Alan Mannus with a wind-assisted free kick.
With the pitch having cut up badly into the second half, both sides admirably continued to try to pass the ball.
Talbot was worked by shots from Graham Burke, McEneff and then Byrne as Rovers regained the initiative.
The latter effort followed the 65th-minute sending off of Lyons for a crunching challenge on Burke, his second yellow card.
Cue the late onslaught. Rovers substitute Dylan Watts had a goal-bound shot blocked by James Finnerty while Anto Breslin cleared off the line as Bohemians courageously battled to keep their goal intact only for Greene's late, late deadlock breaker.
“The gaffer said follow in at both ends. They were tough conditions,” said Greene of the goal.
“And I said to James [Talbot], ‘you’re going to drop one and I’m going to be there to tap it in’.
“Because he does give us a bit of stick in the media, doesn’t he?” added Greene in reference to Talbot’s post-match comments after Bohemians beat Rovers last summer.
“I’m delighted. Last minute of the game. No better feeling. They are the type of goals I’ve been wanting to score. It was nice to get that type of poacher’s goal. But we can’t get carried away. It’s just the first game of the season.
“It’s always nice when you beat Bohs for the fans. We’ll let them enjoy that. It’s a great start. But that’s all it is We need to look forward to next week and be ruthless again.”
BOHEMIANS: Talbot; Lyons, Cornwall, Finnerty, Breslin; Twardek, Buckley, Lunney, Wade-Slater (Mandroiu, 63 mins); Ward (Barker, 68 mins); Wright.
SHAMROCK ROVERS: Mannus; O'Brien (Scales, 56 mins), Lopes, Grace, Lafferty (Farrugia, 75 mins); O'Neill; Finn, Byrne, McEneff, Burke (Watts, 75 mins); Greene.
Referee: Rob Hennessy (Clare).