Owen Heary inspired Shelbourne's comeback tonight as they recovered from a two-goal deficit to draw 2-2 with Derry City at Tolka Park.

The Shels skipper was in superb form as the league leaders held onto their seven point advantage over Derry in this absorbing clash.

The game turned when Derry's keeper, Pat Jennings, was dismissed in the 44th minute for a foul on Jason Byrne.

Suddenly Shels became the dominant side, having fallen two goals behind to a header from Paddy McCourt and a 40-yard wonder strike from Kevin Deery.

There and then, Derry looked like running out comfortable winners.

Their defensive work was inspired. Shels, while dominant, weren't creating many chances.

Then, with two minutes of the first half remaining, Derry lost keeper Jennings, who was dismissed for his foul on Jason Byrne.

Deery initially went into goal but then Derry had to use striker Stephen O'Flynn for the second half and Shels got back in it.

Heary pulled a goal back in the 61st minute with a powerful strike and Glen Crowe's header earned Shels a draw.

They might even have won it but efforts from Crowe, Heary and Stuart Byrne were off-target.

Derry defender, Darren Kelly, said: 'I am absolutely disgusted with what happened. The sending off changed everything. I didn't think Pat should have been sent off.

'I was the last man, not Pat. Had he stayed on then we could have got all three points. In the end we had to hang on.'