Shamrock Rovers 0-0 St Patrick's Athletic

Conor O’Malley produced a man-of-the-match display to earn St Patrick’s Athletic a point with an exemplary show of goalkeeping as these Dublin rivals had to settle for a point from their SSE Airtricity League Premier Division clash at Tallaght Stadium.

The irony on the night was that it was a stunning late stop from Shamrock Rovers’ substitute keeper Barry Murphy that deprived St Pat’s of a winner they scarcely would have deserved.

Though they’d won on their previous two visits this season, St Pat’s arrived in Tallaght coming off a damaging home defeat to Bohemians and without key striker Christy Fagan who was suspended. Danny Corcoran thus came in up top for only his second league start of the campaign.

Rovers made five changes to the side beaten by Derry City at the same venue on Tuesday as boss Stephen Bradley (new ‘official’ manager Sami Ristila’s sat in the stand) maintained their 3-5-2 formation.

Gary McCabe was one of those changes and the attacking midfielder wasn’t far over the top with a  thumping free kick three minutes in to register the first action of the game.

Ten minutes later unfortunate action at the other end saw Rovers’ keeper Craig Hyland limp off with a leg injury.

That signalled St Pat’s first decent spell in the game with Darren Dennehy toeing wide from a Mark Timlin corner.

Graham Kelly then missed the proverbial sitter when scooping over the bar from close range after Michael Barker did well on the right to cross on 28 minutes as the game finally livened up.

At the other end a minute later, tenacious defending by Lee Desmond blocked a shot from Simon Madden after Dean Clarke got free in the area to cross.

St Pat’s O’Malley then produced heroics with two stunning saves to keeper Rovers out until half-time.

The 22-year-old keeper was worked for the first time on 36 minutes, tipping Sean Boyd’s header from a Madden cross onto the bar and over.

Three minutes later O’Malley excelled again, getting a good hand to Patrick Cregg’s shot after the Rovers midfielder worked a one-two with Boyd.

Rovers maintained the initiative into the second half with Dean Clarke firing wide before forcing O’Malley into a more comfortable save with a low drive.

Well on top now, Rovers carved another fine chance on 6 1minutes. McCabe delightfully touched down a diagonal ball from Dave Webster into the path of skipper Stephen McPhail whose low right-foot shot was again brilliantly saved by O’Malley. 

Substitute Stephen Kinsella and Timlin relieved the pressure on St Pat’s when shooting off target.

The service resumed at the other end on 77 minutes, Boyd having a shot deflected for a corner as Rovers remained in command.

Four minutes later it was Rovers, though, who needed rescuing with a stunning save. Kelly found space on the edge of the area to shoot. Murphy brilliantly touched the rising left-foot shot over his bar.

Shamrock Rovers: Craig Hyland (Barry Murphy 13); Sean Heaney, Rob Cornwall, Dave Webster; Simon Madden, Patrick Cregg (Brandon Miele 70), Stephen McPhail, Gary McCabe, Trevor Clarke; Dean Clarke (Gary Shaw 78), Sean Boyd.

St Patrick’s Athletic: Conor O’Malley; Michael Barker, Rory Feely, Darren Denny (Ger O’Brien 49), Ian Bermingham; Graham Kelly, Lee Desmond; Conan Byrne, Mark Timlin, Billy Dennehy (Stephen Kinsella 70); Dinny Corcoran (Jamie McGrath 78).

Referee: Neil Doyle (Dublin).