Shamrock Rovers held to draw by Finn Harps as 1,000 fans return to Tallaght Stadium

Irish Mirror   11/06/2021 22:05

One thousand Hoops were sent home with the hump after Finn Harps spoiled the feelgood factor in Tallaght.

After 469 days of having to watch their team on a live stream, the fortunate few made their presence felt here as cheers and jeers reverberated around the ground.

What was a strange sight and sound initially, quickly became the norm and it was as if the silent football of the last 15-months was nothing more than a bad dream.

And the Rovers supporters thought they were onto a good thing when Aaron Greene put the champions ahead after just nine minutes.

But Adam Foley’s remarkable season shows no sign of abating as he nabbed his seventh of the campaign to snare a well-earned point for Ollie Horgan’s charges.

Rovers - who have banked just four points from the last 12 - were pushing for a trademark late winner at the death.

And Graham Burke thought he had won it but somehow his vicious drive was kept out in a sea of bodies.

1,000 supporters sounded like multiples of that throughout the see-saw six minutes of injury-time - and they had their hearts in their mouth when Foley nearly won it.

Harps proved formidable opponents throughout and in the opening five minutes, those home fans must have wondered what sort of night they were in for.

Harps found themselves in threatening situations around the six-yard box on three quick-fire occasions.

But it was all bitty stuff and Alan Mannus made a comfortable save to thwart Tunde Ololabi with the best of them.

But the Hoops supporters were in heaven four minutes later when celebrating their first live goal since the 3-2 win away to Sligo Rovers in March 2020.

Rory Gaffney robbed dithering Kosovar Sadiki and squared to Greene who tapped in from close range.

With the fans creating such a racket, perhaps Sadiki didn’t hear the shout from goalkeeper Mark McGinley or his defensive colleagues.

You could have heard a pin drop in stadiums for the last 15 months, after all. Either way, it was still a defensive howler and a gift for the hosts.

Harps were no pushovers and played decent football in the final third, but Rovers pressed for a killer second and Danny Mandroiu was to the fore.

Back from his time away with Ireland, he fizzed a free just wide and tormented the visiting defence with his probing through balls.

Finn Harps' Adam Foley celebrates scoring a goal with teammates

And but for Ethan Boyle’s block on Max Murphy, Rovers would have eased further clear as the young wing-back was hovering with intent to turn home Gaffney’s cross.

But not for the first time this season, Rovers failed to capitalise on that period of dominance and paid the price early in the second-half.

Barry McNamme brought his A-game to Tallaght and was a joy to watch.

A constant menace, his slipped ball in behind Murphy set Foley scampering into the box and he left Mannus red-faced with a low, angled finish from the near post.

What had been a boisterous crowd was now an anxious one and, needing attacking intent, Burke was brought on to conjure some magic.

His injury-time strike looked to be heading in until it was diverted in a crowded box, but then Foley could have won it for Harps.

Rovers fans might grumble, but Harps deserved their point.

SHAMROCK ROVERS: Mannus 6; Grace 6, Hoare 7, Scales 6; Gannon 7, McCann 6, O’Neill 6 (Williams 85, 5), Murphy 5 (Burke 61, 6); Mandroiu 7; Greene 6, Gaffney 6.

FINN HARPS: McGinley 6; Boyle 7, Webster 6, McEleney 6, Sadiki 5; O’Sullivan 6, Seymour 6, McNamee 8 (Connolly 81, 5), Coyle 6; Owolabi 6 (Boyd 79, 5), Foley 7 (Russell 79, 5).

Referee: G Kelly

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