By Ed Leahy at Tolka Park
Shamrock Rovers played out their third scoreless draw of the season as they were held by Shelbourne 0-0 at Tolka Park.
Shels were worthy of the draw and their best chance of the game came in the second minute but Dean Kelly couldn’t capitalise on a mistake by Barry Murphy in the Rovers goal.
The Hoops dominated in large parts but had to wait until the last five minutes to really test the Shelbourne goal.
And keeper Niall Burdon made a superb double save from Ronan Finn and then Mark Quigley to keep a clean sheet and hand Shelbourne their first point of the campaign.
Shelbourne boss Alan Mathews made a couple of changes from the side that lost to Dundalk as Jack Memery and Stephen Hurley both started, while Paul Crowley and Graham Gartland missed out through suspension
Shamrock Rovers manager Trevor Croly had to deal with a bit of a crisis in the centre of defence as Derek Foran was suspended, while Jason McGuinness and David Elebert were both injured
Ken Oman started for the first time this season and captain Pat Sullivan moved into the centre with Conor McCormack slotting in at right back.
The game was barely two minutes old when Shelbourne were almost handed an early lead as Dean Kelly dispossessed the Rovers keeper but Murphy got down well to swipe the ball away from the feet of the former Rovers man.
And the home side maintained the pressure and had another chance in the 13th minute when Adam Hanlon drifted a long ball to the back post but Kelly headed wide from a tight angle.
Two minutes later, new signing Sean Brennan had a shot from distance but the ball flew just wide with the Rovers keeper at full stretch
It took Rovers 21 minutes to get into the game as Shane Robinson’s had a shot on target after some good play by Sean O’Connor. However, it was a tame effort on goal and no problem for Shels keeper Burdon.
Ronan Finn’s effort three minutes later did test the Reds keeper and his snap shot from the edge of the box was well held.
It was all Rovers now and Gary McCabe combined well with Finn after 30 minutes but Finn’s effort on goal was weak and straight at the keeper.
Shane Robinson was starting to influence the game now from the Rovers midfield and played in McCabe after 40 minutes but his shot was saved at the near post from close range as the sides went in at the break scoreless.
The second half was a scrappy affair and neither side were helped by the bobbly pitch but it was the home side who had the first real sight at goal after 54 minutes when a deep ball from the right wing found Dean Kelly in space but his header from ten yards bounced wide of the far post.
Phily Hughes put keeper Murphy under pressure in the 57th minute and blocked the clearance but the lineman’s flag was raised and Rovers were awarded a free out.
Mark Leech came on for Shelbourne to face his former side and almost made an immediate impression in the 66th minute when he raced on to a ball over the top and played a neat one-two with Robert Bayly but the Rovers defence got back to clear.
Shelbourne were in search of their first victory and a minute later Hughes found himself in on goal and tried to beat Murphy at the near post. But the Hoops shot-stopper has yet to be beaten this year and made the save at the near post, when Hughes should have squared to Kelly in space.
Rovers finally made their way up the field in the final minutes of normal time but were denied twice in the space of 30 seconds by the in-form Burdon.
Ronan Finn brought out a world class save from the Shelbourne number one, when his close-range volley was somehow saved by Burdon.
Shels failed to clear and the ball was played back into the box where substitute Mark Quigley thought he had scored, only for Burdon to dive full-length to tip the ball around the post as Shels held on for their first point of the season.
Shelbourne: Burdon; Cornwall, Ryan (capt), Shorthall Memery; Hanlon, Bayly, Hurley Brennan (Leech 56), Kelly; Hughes.
Shamrock Rovers: Murphy; McCormack, Sullivan, Oman, Powell; O’Connor (Dennehy 71), Chambers, Finn, Robinson (Quigley 61), McCabe; Kilduff (Sheppard)
Referee: Alan Kelly