Friday night proved to possess arguably the most exciting game of the season so far. There were goals, red cards, penalties and controversial decisions on offer in a huge game at Tallaght Stadium between Shamrock Rovers and champions Dundalk.
Shamrock Rovers vs Dundalk turned out to be arguably the game of the season so far with no shortage of drama and controversy from the off.
The first half was a largely disappointing affair with very few chances of note, Craig Hyland made a decent save from a one-on-one situation from David McMillan and Gary Rogers almost let in a very soft goal, misjudging the flight of the ball, just to see it miss the post by inches.
But Dundalk fired ahead on the stroke of half-time through David McMillan after two defensive blunders by David O’Connor and Conor Kenna let McMillan slot the ball home.
And straight from kick-off, Ronan Finn scored for Dundalk to make it 2-0. Rovers looked dead and buried, they were 2-0 down to the champions, who had only dropped two points so far this season.
But with 56 minutes on the clock, Ryan Brennan attempted to round Dundalk ‘keeper Gary Rogers, only to be brought down by the stopper right on the edge of the box.
Referee Neil Doyle adjudged it to be inside the penalty area and pointed to the spot, much to the disbelief of Dundalk supporters, and then brandished a red card to Rogers. Rovers’ striker Mikey Drennan converted the penalty into the top right-hand corner of the goal to hand a life-line to the Hoops.
Right on the hour mark, a long ball from the back broke for Drennan on the right side of the pitch and he got onto the wrong side of the defender, he then placed a beautiful finish into the top opposite corner of the net, Rovers were back in it at 2-2.
Dundalk were hanging on for dear life, with ten men on the pitch they were sitting back and happy to take a draw. But there was still time for Rovers to miss a glorious chance right in front of the goal, and in the dying seconds of the match, a swift counter-attack from Dundalk saw McMillan’s effort saved by young Rovers keeper Craig Hyland.
An all-round exciting game and a great advertisement for the League of Ireland saw Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk come away with a point each after a thrilling 2-2 draw, which puts Dundalk within touching distance once more of Cork City, and keeps Rovers in the title race.
On Monday evening Shamrock Rovers will travel to the Carlisle Grounds to face a revived Bray Wanderers.
Dundalk will host relegation-threatened Galway United. Two very winnable ties for each side and both clubs will be hoping to take three points from Bray and Galway, respectively.
Shane McDonnell, Pundit Arena