Shamrock Rovers 0-0 Cork City

Shamrock Rovers and Cork City had to settle for a share of the spoils at they finished locked in a 0-0 stalemate following their SSE Airtricity League Premier Division clash at Tallaght Stadium on Friday evening.

There were few incidents of note in a lethargic opening-half with Sean Maguire shooting wide when well placed at the end of the first quarter while Dean Clarke and Sean Heaney spurned half chances for the hosts.

The second-half was equally bereft of goalmouth action with substitute Sean Boyd forcing a fine save from Mark McNulty six minutes from time.

It was the visitors that enjoyed the brighter start with Steven Beattie looking lively down their right-hand side as Rovers struggled to show any fluidity in the early exchanges.

With both Gary McCabe and Killian Brennan absent, the hosts lacked a degree of dynamism around their middle third with Brandon Miele and Gary Shaw starved for chances initially.

However, with Stephen McPhail in their ranks, there was still sufficient class within the home midfield and the former Leeds United man created the first chance of the night in the 12th minute.

But Dean Clarke failed to take advantage of hesitancy between Mark McNulty and Conor McCarthy as he shot straight at the goalkeeper.

The contest stalled to a degree with both sides showing an understandable level of rustiness following their three-week break.

City’s first clear-cut chance of the night arrived a minute later with Sean Maguire shooting wastefully wide from ten yards after some excellent approach play by Stephen Dooley. 

The final chance of the half arrived via another set piece as Sean Heaney fluffed his low shot from a McPhail delivery as the half ended in a predictable stalemate.

Rovers enjoyed a more threatening resumption as Gary Shaw was denied by a fine recovering tackle from Alan Bennett after Miele had escaped down the City left flank in the 47th minute.

Within three minutes, Maguire worked well to feed Dooley fourteen yards from goal but the winger’s header lacked conviction as it failed to trouble Hyland in the home goal.  

Rovers enjoyed sporadic period of pressure around the three-quarter mark as O’Connor bravely blocked a McPhail piledriver after City struggled to clear a Miele corner-kick.

They were slightly more fortunate in the 68th minute when home substitute Sean Boyd failed to gain sufficient power on his header when unmarked after meeting Pat Cregg’s pinpoint cross.

It was the hosts who looked most likely in the closing stages as they lay siege to the City goal, forcing a flurry of corner-kicks with Boyd’s acrobatic header in the 84th minute tipped over his crossbar by McNulty.  

Shamrock Rovers: Craig Hyland; Simon Madden, Sean Heaney, Robert Cornwall, David O’Connor; Gavin Brennan, Pat Cregg, Stephen McPhail, Dean Clarke (Trevor Clarke, 77); Brandon Miele, Gary Shaw (Sean Boyd, 59).

Cork City: Mark McNulty: Conor McCarthy (Ian Turner, 60), Alan Bennett, Kenny Browne, Kevin O’Connor; Steven Beattie, Gavan Holohan (Mark O’Sullivan, 60), Greg Bolger, Gearoid Morrissey, Stephen Dooley (Danny Morrissey, 73); Sean Maguire.

Referee: Paul McLaughlin (Donegal)