Report: Ryan McMullen

Rovers endure disappointment in Dundalk, as Hoops come out on the wrong end of late drama at Oriel Park.

Going into the contest, Hoops boss Stephen Bradley made two changes from the side that started last Friday against St Pat’s – Markus Poom was ruled out of this one due to suspension, meaning Trevor Clarke was named in the team, and Neil Farrugia dropped to the bench, with Jack Byrne taking the 24-year-old’s spot to make his first start of the season.

Aaron McEneff was named among the substitutes, featuring in the matchday squad for the first time since returning to the club – whilst Darragh Burns, who came off with a knock last Friday, missed out through injury.

It was Rovers who kick-started the action after the first 10 minutes, in which both teams took their time to settle. From the right, Aaron Greene played a pass into striker Johnny Kenny alongside him in the box, who failed to find the target – sending his shot wide.

Kenny eyed up goal once again minutes later. Conan Noonan slid a nice ball into the path of the Sligo native, and this time, he was able to force a save from Ross Munro in goal for Dundalk, but it was a comfortable enough stop in the bottom left corner for the ‘keeper.

Jack Byrne then took on a strike from a Hoops’ free-kick just outside the box – his dipping effort flew just beyond the woodwork.

Down the other end, Dundalk had their first opportunity when Paul Doyle let fly from distance – alarming goalkeeper Leon Pohls with a powerful hit that wasn’t far off.

Rovers fought hard to try and break the deadlock, but it wasn’t to be, and they were left with work to do in the second 45 minutes, as the match remained scoreless at half-time.

Following the interval, Paul Doyle almost broke the deadlock with an attempt from the edge of the box – the 26-year-old hammered inches wide, with the game still awaiting an opener.

Whilst the Hoops were on the hunt for that breakthrough, Bradley made a double change in the 66th minute – introducing Graham Burke and Neil Farrugia off his bench to replace Kenny and Noonan respectively.

Burke in particular, looked lively when he came on. Having received a pass from Sean Kavanagh on his left-hand side, the 30-year-old found himself in a dangerous position inside the box, and just put too much power on his first goal-bound effort, sending it over the bar.

A second opportunity in quick succession came for Burke when he was fed in by   Farrugia on the right – again, he couldn’t keep his attempt down.

McEneff was also sprung from the bench with just over 15 minutes remaining in the game – replacing Sean Kavanagh. Whilst making his way onto the pitch, the midfielder was greeted with a loud rendition of his trademark chant from the travelling Hoops supporters. A welcome return to action in Rovers colours.

During the later stages, there was a lack of clear-cut chances at both ends, and it seemed that a draw would be the outcome in Louth – that was until Dundalk captain John Mountney found an injury time winner for the Lilywhites.

A cross into the box from Hayden Muller on the right wing dropped into the path of Mountney at the edge of the box, who slotted a half-volley on his right foot deep into the bottom left corner past Pohls.

And shortly after, the full-time whistle was blown – with Dundalk walking away with all 3 points from a game Rovers won’t want to remember.

Despite the frustration, Bradley and his side will look to put the result behind them as attention quickly turns to our next fixture – that takes place next Monday, May 20th, as Derry City make the trip to D24, Kick-off at Tallaght Stadium is set for 8 pm.

Dundalk: Munro, Boyle, Bradshaw, Davies, Animasahun, Johnson, Horgan, Doyle (Muller 74’), Mountney ©, Gullan, Elliott (Durrant 66’).

Dundalk unused substitutes: Molloy, Walker, Annesley, O’Kane, Mulligan, Kenny, Keogh.

Shamrock Rovers: Pohls, Nugent, Cleary, Lopes ©, Honohan, Clarke, Kavanagh (McEneff 74’), Noonan (Farrugia 66’), Byrne, Greene, Kenny (Burke 66’).

Shamrock Rovers unused substitutes: Steacy, Leitis, Barrett, J O’Sullivan, C O’Sullivan, Britton.

Referee: Alan Patchell