Shamrock Rovers’ Richie Towell denies Bohs a precious derby win

Late equaliser saw the sides share the spoils after a feisty encounter at Tallaght Stadium

Shamrock Rovers’ Richie Towell celebrates scoring a goal during the Airtricity League clash with Bohemians. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Shamrock Rovers’ Richie Towell celebrates scoring a goal during the Airtricity League clash with Bohemians. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

Shamrock Rovers 1 Bohemians 1

When Bohemians stand-in goalkeeper Stephen McGuinness coughed up a Shamrock Rovers corner, for no apparent reason other than nerves, Richie Towell took a mental note.

Towell had already shot from halfway. With 10-man Rovers running out of time, their linchpin throughout this canter to a record-extending 19th league title let fly from 30 yards, straight at the man tasked with covering for James Talbot.

The skidding ball struck McGuinness’s gloves and spun into the net for what can only be recorded as an unforced error.

It denied Bohemians a precious three points, in the pursuit of Derry City and Sligo Rovers, and that third place finish they need to secure European football.

Is a Dublin derby with no away fans still a Dublin derby? Undoubtedly yes, especially when the visitors silence a raucous Tallaght crowd.

Rovers’ 13-point cushion means they can afford a slip or two, but defeat here would have been a real shock. Not because of Bohemians slick, counter-attacks that opened the champions up but the personnel trusted to deliver.

Bohs manager Keith Long has seen his squad drained by Ireland under-21 call-ups. Dawson Devoy, on the Irish fringes behind Conor Coventry and Gavin Kilkenny, started but Ross Tierney and Andy Lyons were in the stand.

Long made an even riskier call to keep Georgie Kelly on ice until Friday’s FAI cup semi-final, and another route into Europe, against Waterford at Dalymount Park. Holding Kelly, who had a slight strain, meant that his 23 goals and six assists in all competitions for Bohs was unavailable for a cut at their fiercest rivals.

Promise Omochere more than filled the gap. The 20-year-old arguably offered more power than Kelly, certainly further out the field, but plenty of Rovers fans will dispute Roberto Lopes’ red card that Omochere effectively earned.

Before this moment of high tension, the Phibsborough men had snatched a lead, wildly against the run of play.

Actually, it came from the guerrilla tactics Bohs sought to employ. The threat of Barry Cotter and Danny Mandroiu had them in reverse from the get go, effectively forcing them to adopt a back five.

Talbot’s withdrawal during the warm-up did not help.

Strangely, for all Rovers’ perceived control, Bohs conjured two chances midway through the first half, with Ali Coote a constant menace, before Liam Burt scored his delicious goal.

It began with Devoy, seemingly under pressure at right back, sliding a clean pass to Omochere who fed Keith Ward for the veteran to put a ball across Alan Mannus’ goalmouth for the unmarked Burt to finish.

Seconds later and Rovers’ high defensive line was in trouble again after Keith Buckley’s vicious tackle dispossessed Ronan Finn and had Omochere bearing down on Mannus. Lopes could not cope with the young forward’s awkward strength. A jersey tug just before Omochere reached the box prompted referee Neil Doyle to dismiss Lopes.

An eternally spiky fixture now has four red cards this season.

Towell’s equaliser brought pure relief around Tallaght while some late McGuinness heroics saved Bohs from defeat. Redemption all over in the end.

Shamrock Rovers: Mannus; Gannon, Lopes, Hoare; Finn, Towell, Watts (Farrugia 66), O’Neill (McCann 40), Cotter (Kavanagh 86, Burke 90); Mandroiu (Greene 66); Gaffney (Emakhu 66).

Bohemians: McGuinness; Feely (Lyons 90), Cornwall, Kelly, Breslin; Coote (Idowu 83), Buckley, Devoy, Burt (Levingston 90); Ward (Mullins 73); Omochere.

Referee: Neil Doyle (FAI).

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