Stephen Bradley’s team selection saw two changes to the side that started last week’s President’s Cup Final, with Conan Noonan and Rory Gaffney both coming into the side to replace Darragh Nugent and Aaron Greene who dropped to the bench.

The Hoops controlled the majority of the play in the opening stages, playing some fine football without creating any clear-cut chances on goal.

Daryl Horgan forced Leon Pohls into action, but the German goalkeeper got down well to gather without any great difficulty.

Midway through the first half, Neil Farrugia was taken down by Zak Bradshaw on the edge of the box, with the wing-back landing appearing to land awkwardly on his shoulder. What followed was a worrying sight for the Rovers fans inside the stadium – with a long stoppage in play that resulted in Farrugia being carried off in a stretcher, bound for Tallaght Hospital for tests to determine the full extent of the injury. Trevor Clarke was summoned from the bench as his replacement with Sean Kavanagh switching to right wing back.

The long stoppage disrupted the Hoops’ momentum, and shortly after the restart, the visitors would strike first. Scotsman Jamie Gullan – making his debut for the Lilywhites, stepped up to strike a 25-yard free kick over the wall and past Pohls to give the away side the lead.

Rovers responded. Rory Gaffney burst forward down the left flank and looked to tee up the on-rushing Darragh Burns but the Dundalk defence scrambled to clear for a corner.

The Hoops were hit with another blow during the nine minutes of first-half stoppage time when Trevor Clarke picked up a knock that would force the substitute to be substituted before the half-time interval. Darragh Nugent was introduced, which saw another reshuffle with Kavanagh returning to left wing-back and Nugent slotting in at right wing-back.

Referee Rob Hennessy blew for halftime shortly after and despite some good passages of play, Rovers went in at the break trailing by a goal to nil with work to do in the second half.

Stephen Bradley decided to make a further change at halftime, with experienced striker Aaron Greene sprung from the bench in place of Markus Poom.

Rovers started the half much like the first, enjoying the majority of possession and probing for a breakthrough. On 53 minutes, Darragh Burns drifted into space in the penalty box but he couldn’t guide his header on target after being picked out with a brilliant ball by Sean Kavanagh.

Down the other end, the Hoops were fortunate not to fall further behind when Daryl Horgan picked out Ryan O’Kane at the back post, but the winger’s header crashed back off the post to keep the score at 1-0.

The visitors would be left to rue that missed opportunity shortly after. Conan Noonan, who registered a hat trick of assists in last week’s President’s Cup Final, provided another assist this week as his free kick met the head of Aaron Greene who guided past Shelvey to put the Hoops level just before the hour marl.

Rovers kept pushing and had multiple half-chances including a Darragh Burns effort that was hit wide during what was arguably the best spell of the game for Rovers as they continued to put a lot of pressure on the Dundalk defence approaching the later stages.

With just a minute of normal time remaining, Sean Hoare had a golden opportunity to grab all three points as he rose highest but couldn’t direct his header on target.

The full-time whistle would sound shortly after with the Hoops forced to settle for a share of the spoils on the opening day. Next up is a trip across the Liffey as we take on Shelbourne in the Ringsend Derby next Friday (February 23rd), with kick-off set for 7:45 pm at Tolka Park.

Shamrock Rovers: Pohls, Cleary, Hoare, Honohan, Farrugia (Clarke 29’) (Nugent 45+7), Poom (Greene 46’), O’Neill (C), Kavanagh, Burns, Noonan (Watts 61’), Gaffney.

Shamrock Rovers unused substitutes: Steacy, Grace, Barrett, O’Sullivan, Dillon.

Dundalk: Shelvey, Davies, Animasahun, Boyle (C), Walker, High, Bradshaw (Doyle 69’), Horgan (Durrant 78’), Benson (Mahon 83’), O’Kane (Muller 84’), Gullan (Elliot 69’).

Dundalk unused substitutes: Munro, Annesley, Johnson, McGuckin.

Referee: Rob Hennessy