League Report: Shelbourne 0-0 Shamrock Rovers

Action from the game between Shelbourne and Shamrock Rovers

Action from the game between Shelbourne and Shamrock Rovers Credit: Paul Dolan (ETPhotos)

Shelbourne and Shamrock Rovers played out a scoreless draw at a bitterly cold Tolka Park on Friday night leaving the reigning league champions still without a win from their opening five league matches.

Despite being a point behind Damien Duff’s side, the Hoops were probably considered favourites coming into this game. Surely they are going to have to get their mojo back some time soon, and there had been signs of it against Cork City last Monday night.

Rovers scored four against the Rebels in a pulsating eight-goal thriller but tonight they misfired in front of goal, failing to hit the net despite having the lion’s share of the chances.

In defence, though, it has to be said that Shelbourne were excellent. Playing five across the back their rearguard was marshalled by Gavin Molloy, while Paddy Barrett and Tyreke Wilson also showed their mettle.

After a bright start by the home side, the Hoops came into the game more as the opening half wore on. As the half-hour mark loomed Rory Gaffney caught sight of goal when Conor Kearns came too far out of his area but the striker’s shot from a wide angle drifted away from goal.

Moments later Gaffney almost created the opener when his chip into the danger area was well claimed by Kearns. But as the half wrapped up it was the Reds who were on the front foot having rediscovered their attacking instinct.

Both sides made changes to their back-lines at half time – with Lee Grace replacing the booked Dan Cleary - but it was Shelbourne’s defence that was the first to be tested in the second period. Jack Byrne swung in a magnificent cross which Gaffney couldn’t finish off despite getting his head to it.

Evan Caffrey shot wide for Shels while Rovers’ Richie Towell brought a decent save from Kearns with a shot that was fizzing towards the top corner. But there was a growing sense that Shelbourne’s greater sense of purpose was going to blunt the visitor’s ambitions.

And so it proved. The Hoops ran out of steam as the game edged towards its conclusion and, as with the first half, Shelbourne ended the second on a high note, pressing for a winner when you might have expected them to be the more willing to settle for a draw.

And so an intriguing battle ended without a winner meaning the title holders have now drawn four of their opening five matches and are still without a victory. Shelbourne, meanwhile, head in to week six knowing that their defence is a match for anyone.

Shelbourne: Conor Kearns; John Ross Wilson, Paddy Barrett (Kameron Ledwidge 46), Luke Byrne, Gavin Molloy, Tyreke Wilson; Shane Farrell, Evan Caffrey, JJ Lunney (Brian McManus 54); Matty Smith (Kian Leavy 65), Jack Moylan (Kyle Robinson 82).

Subs Not Used: Daithi Folan (gk), Gbemi Arubi, Sean Cummins, Andrew Quinn, Scott Van der Sluis.

Booked: None.

Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Dan Cleary (Lee Grace 46), Roberto Lopes, Sean Hoare; Richie Towell (Johnny Kenny 83), Jack Byrne, Gary O’Neill; Niall Farrugia, Graham Burke (Liam Burt 88), Sean Kavanagh (Trevor Clarke 77); Rory Gaffney..

Subs Not Used: Leon Pohls (gk), Sean Gannon, Darragh Nugent, Markus Poom, Simon Power.

Booked: Dan Cleary (21).

Referee: Paul McLaughlin

Attendance: 4,000 (estimate)

Extratime Player of the Match: Gavin Molloy (Shelbourne)