Rob Cornwall salvaged a point for Bohemians in equalising Ronan Finn’s lead as the sides swapped late goals in a Dublin derby that only caught fire in its dying embers at Dalymount Park.
With Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill, his assistant Roy Keane and some of their international squad-mates in attendance, Shane Supple of Bohemians and Rovers’ Graham Burke lined out against each other before they join up for their departure to Paris today ahead of Monday’s friendly with France.
While Bohs made three changes, with Danny grant, Keith Ward and Kevin Devaney coming back into the side, Rovers were forced into two switches as Luke Byrne and Dave McAllister replaced Sam Bone and Brandon Miele who were injured in Tuesday’s 3-0 win over St Patrick’s Athletic.
Having tipped off Bohs should really have made a telling start with the first opening of the game three minutes in.
Central defender Cornwall put Dan Byrne in behind, but the midfielder’s heavy touch saw the ball run through to the grateful Tomer Chencinski.
Playing into the school end where their fans were congregated, Rovers’ response six minutes later was tame as Sean Kavanagh never got hold of a left-foot shot that trickled wide.
But the power and pace of Dan Carr soon troubled the Gypsies for the fist time. The Londoner bustled his way straight through from Chencinski’s goal kick only to fail to control the ball which Bohs were happy to see fly wide.
The home side then had to defend tenaciously to block shots in quick succession from Lee Grace and Kavanagh as they eventually cleared their area following two successive corners.
The pressure relieved, Bohs went down the other end to force their first corner of the game which resulted in Cornwall rifling a shot not too far wide of Chencinski’s left-hand post.
The first clear-cut chance of a frenetic game finally arrived on 32 minutes.
Rovers’ skipper Finn and Ethan Boyle linked on the right to put Burke in on goal. Supple was promptly off his line to narrow the angle and save well from the low drive.
While some half-time amusement was provided by an Austrian lady proposing to her boyfriend in front of the main stand, the entertainment on the pitch struggled to deliver much value.
A mistake by Ian Morris gave Burke and run on goal, his shot cannoning back off a defender.
Bohs did have the ball in the net on 72 minutes. Ward’s sublime through ball found the run of Dinny Corcoran who drilled home. But he was promptly flagged offside.
Rovers then thought they had won it when taking the lead on 82 minutes.
Bohs were incensed that a handball wasn’t given as Dylan Watts attempted to thread a pass cross field, though he had a far better option with Ward galloping free down his left side.
The ball broke for McAllister who put it over the top for the run of Finn who ran on to shoot low past Supple.
Defeat would have been harsh on Bohemians and a late twist brought them their reward.
Ward arced an 88th minute free kick in from the left flank and Cornwall arrived to power the ball to the net with a bullet header.
Bohemians: Shane Supple; Keith Buckley, Rob Cornwall, Dan Casey, Ian Morris; Danny Grant (Philly Gannon 68), Dan Byrne (Oscar Brennan 53), Dylan Watts, Kevin Devaney (Paddy kavanagh, 83); Keith Ward; Dinny Corcoran.
Shamrock Rovers: Tomer Chencinski; Ethan Boyle, Roberto Lopes, Lee Grace, Luke Byrne; Greg Bolger; Graham Burke, David McAllister, Ronan Finn (Joey O’Brien 84), Sean Kavanagh (Joel Coustrain 74); Dan Carr (Gary Shaw 86).