Substitute Ryan Brennan gave Shelbourne their just reward with a late equaliser as the sides had to settle for a point apiece from their SSE Airtricity League Premier Division clash at Tolka Park.

With 50 season ticket holders filling the 200 limit attendance under Covid-19 restrictions, Shelbourne had a purpose to their play from the off, working Peter Cherrie in the Derry goal nine minutes in from a sweeping counterattack.

Ciaran Kilduff's cushioned lay off found Shane Farrell whose diagonal pass picked out Karl Sheppard in space.

The winger’s low drive from distance was arrowing into the bottom corner before Cherrie got across at full stretch to push the crisp effort away.

On a very warm evening, Derry had some defending to do once again five minutes later. Farrell flicked on a Georgie Poynton throw-in on the right for Kilduff on the edge of the six yard box. Eoin Toal was ever alert to the danger to block the striker’s shot out for the first corner of the game.

It was 21 minutes before Derry mustered a threat, a speculative long shot from Joe Thomson flying a foot or so over Colin McCabe’s crossbar.

All Shels’ early endeavour was soon undone, though, when Derry’s most incisive attack of the first half delivered the lead on the half hour.

Colm Horgan got forward from right-back to thread a ball in to the feet of Walter Figueira. His flick found the run of Ibrahim Meite who turned adroitly only to be tripped by the back-tracking Sean Quinn to concede a penalty. 

New signing Meite was composure personified from the spot, sending McCabe the wrong way as the ball flew into the bottom corner off his left foot for a goal on his debut.

Ibrahim Meite of Derry City

And the 24-year-old might have doubled Derry’s lead three minutes later but for some frantic defending.

Again it was Figueira who picked out Meite in the area.

And though he cleverly rolled around Dan Byrne, his shot was blocked by the retreating Daniel O’Reilly.

As they did in the first half, Shels started the second on the front foot as they chased the game and were close to levelling on the hour.

Kilduff and substitute Jaza Kabia both had stabs at the ball in a right scramble from a Dayle Rooney corner before Derry cleared.

Cherrie got down well to save from substitute Aaron Dobbs before Shels’ pressure told on 77 minutes.

Brennan met Poynton’s free kick in from the left to power a header to the net.

Derry did finished strongly with substitute Adam Hamill twice seeing efforts come back off the home crossbar with fine efforts from distance.

Shelbourne: Colin McCabe; Georgie Poynton, Dan Byrne, Daniel O'Reilly, Alex O’Hanlon; Sean Quinn (Ryan Brennan 65), Gary Deegan; Karl Sheppard (Jaza Kabia 52), Shane Farrell (Denzil Fernandes 73), Dayle Rooney (Aaron Dobbs 73); Ciaran Kilduff.

Derry City: Peter Cherrie; Colm Horgan, Eoin Toal, Darren Cole (Mark McChrystal 67), Ciaran Coll; Joe Thomson (Conor McCormack 58), Ciaron Harkin (Jack Malone 78),  Gerardo Bruna; Walter Figueira, Ibrahim Meite (Adam Hamill 58), Stephen Mallon (Jake Dunwoody 78).

Referee: Neil Doyle (Dublin).