St Pat’s bring Shamrock Rovers’ winning start to an end

Stephen O’Donnell’s side had to play with 10 men for the bulk of the second half

Shamrock Rovers’ Graham Burke reacts to a late missed opportunity. Photograph: Inpho

Shamrock Rovers’ Graham Burke reacts to a late missed opportunity. Photograph: Inpho

 

St Patrick’s Athletic 0 Shamrock Rovers 0

St Patrick’s Athletic produced an unshakeable defensive display to bring Shamrock Rovers’ winning start to the season to an end at Richmond Park.

The unlikely point gained was all the more remarkable given Stephen O’Donnell’s side had to play with 10 men for the bulk of the second half.

Despite utterly dominating throughout, Rovers couldn’t find a way to goal as their lead at the top of the table is reduced to four points. St Patrick’s reward is a move up to fourth place on goal difference above Waterford.

Rovers enlivened a cautious opening five minutes with a route-one ball over the top by Aaron McEneff. And though Aaron Greene’s pace got him in behind down the left, St Patrick’s goalkeeper Brendan Clarke did enough to get a slight touch to the shot to deflect the ball across goal.

The home side were exposed in the same area four minutes later when Neil Farrugia set up Graham Burke whose powerful drive Clarke had to parry past the post in conceding the first corner of the game.

Dominating possession, Rovers were in behind again on 13 minutes, but Burke just wasn’t able to get enough purchase on his stooping header to trouble Clarke from Jack Byrne’s sublime diagonal pass.

After an edgy start defensively, St Pat’s kept their shape reasonably well for the remainder of the half despite Rovers continuing to own the ball. Burke did flash a shot across the face of Clarke’s goal while Byrne, with his international team manager Stephen Kenny in the stand, was over the top with a promising free kick before then having a shot deflected for Rovers’ third corner of the game a minute before the interval.

Not surprisingly, St Patrick’s rejigged defensively at half-time with Lee Desmond dropping back to central defence as Rory Feely moved to right back with David Titov replaced by midfielder Dan Ward.

Their task was made all the more difficult, though, four minutes after the restart when Shane Griffin was shown a second yellow card and sent off for a lunging challenge on Gary O’Neill.

Striker Georgie Kelly was soon sacrificed in a double substitution as St Patrick’s reverted to a blanket midfield five. It worked as they continued to frustrate everything Rovers could muster.

Lee Grace and Farrugia brought comfortable saves from Clarke before Luke McNally epitomised St Patrick’s spirit and work rate with a brave block on Dylan Watts’ shot late on.

Even O’Donnell being sent to the stand for dissent in time added on will not have lessened his pride in his players’ boundless endeavour.

St Patrick’s Athletic: Clarke; Titov (Ward, h-t), Feely, McNally, Bermingham; Forrester, Desmond, Lennon (King, 56), Griffin; Benson; Kelly (Gibson, 56).

Shamrock Rovers: Mannus; O’Brien (Marshall, 62), Lopes, Grace (Scales, 75); Finn (Gaffney, 67), O’Neill (Watts, 75), Byrne, McEneff, Farrugia; Burke, Greene (Williams, 75).

Referee: Paul McLaughlin (Monaghan).

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