Jack Byrne could have been forgiven for fuming at the match officials after David Fofana's headed goal for Molde at Tallaght Stadium was allowed to stand, but the Shamrock Rovers playmaker was measured in his criticism of a moment that proved a turning point in a 2-0 defeat in the Europa Conference League encounter.

The Hoops, who welcomed Byrne, Richie Towell, Dylan Watts, and Roberto Lopes back to their starting line-up, were far from the disjointed outfit that played in the comprehensive 3-0 reversal in Norway just a week ago.

They pressed their opponents relentlessly from the opening exchanges and played with real purpose in possession, which they dominated.

However, their travails in front of goal continued, with Aaron Greene's miss from close range following excellent build-up play emblematic of what was to come.

Rovers have now failed to score in four outings in Group F, with their latest blank coming despite having 14 shots over the 90 minutes, with four of those troubling Jacob Karlstrom in the Molde goal.

Kristian Eriksen killed the game in the 69th minute, but Fofana's opener against the run of play in the 33rd minute was clearly offside.

In the VAR-less world of the Europa Conference League, the goal somehow was allowed to stand.

"It's disappointing" Byrne admitted afterwards in his interview with RTÉ Sport. "Obviously we started well.

"I think Greener had a good chance, which just went the other side of the post and we felt as if we were doing well, but they've scored a goal and I've just seen it back.

"It's obviously offside. It's disappointing at this level for officials to get that wrong.

"It didn't feel right in the game. As we were running back and the ball got crossed, he (Fofana) was in front of us.

"I think me and Sean Hoare were probably the last two back there and he was in front of us and had a free header three yards out.

"I thought we were playing really well. We were patient, we were keeping the ball. We probably didn't create loads but we were right in the game and we were doing well – completely different to last week.

"There are positives we can take from it, but it's just disappointing because at this level when you go a goal down, it's very hard to come out the other side of the game."

The focus for Byrne and Rovers now shifts to the league and Sunday's trip to Drogheda United, with nearest pursuers Derry City just five points behind the league leaders and defending champions.

"It's a massive game for us, probably a bigger game than tonight," Byrne opined. "We know that. We need to dust ourselves down and we'll be in tomorrow and Saturday and watch videos on Drogheda and try to win the game."