A brave performance from Derry City saw them earn a 1-1 draw against champions Shamrock Rovers at the Tallaght Stadium on Friday night. David McDaid cancelled out Gary Twigg's opener in a game which also had a missed penalty and a red card.
Shamrock Rovers had the better of the first 30 minutes of the first half and should have scored on at least one occasion. In the second minute a Billy Dennehy free kick found the head of Craig Sives. Sives got his got his header on target but Barry Molloy cleared it off the line.
Rovers had another chance in the 7th minute. Gary McCabe played it to Ronan Finn. Finn crossed from the right and picked out Gary Twigg. Twigg rose unmarked but headed wide from about six yards out.
Just a minute later Daryl Kavanagh missed for Rovers. He played it to Gary McCabe on the right. McCabe's precise cross found Kavanagh but the former St. Pats man headed wide when it seemed easier to score.
The home side missed their best chance of the half in the 21st minute. The impressive McCabe made a fine run into the Derry area. The Rovers number seven was fouled by Matthew Crossan and referee Anthony Buttimer pointed to the spot. However visiting goalkeeper Gerard Doherty dived low to his left and made a fine save to deny Billy Dennehy. Derry number ten, Patrick McEleney, was booked for dissent. Soon after Doherty tipped over Twigg's effort.
Derry came into the game as the half went on. David McDaid struck a shot just wide after a pass from Mark Farren in the 34th minute and six minutes later they had another chance. Dermot McCaffrey took a corner from the right, Ruaidhri Higgins flicked it on and Mark Farren headed over from six yards out.
Shamrock Rovers took the lead in the 47th minute. Gary McCabe took the corner from the right. Craig Sives mis-kicked it but Gary Twigg was there to knock it home from about six yards out on the half volley to score his 10th goal of the season.
In the 65th minute Rovers nearly went two up. Chris Turner played a ball in behind the Derry defence. Twigg raced onto it and struck it first time on his left foot. However Derry goalkeeper Doherty made a fine save and tipped it over the bar.
In the 70th minute Patrick McEleney was sent off. McEleney went down on the halfway line and referee Anthony Buttimer felt it was a dive. It is his second yellow card of the night and he was sent off.
Derry were not prepared to go down without a fight and they managed to score in the 77th minute after Rovers failed to clear a free kick. Dermot McCaffrey crossed from the right and captain Barry Molloy volleyed it against the post but David McDaid was there to tap it home.
Rovers searched for a winner and substitute Aaron Greene missed their best chance in the 85th minute. Fellow substitute Sean Gannon played him in and Shamrock Rover's number 14 was through on goal but his shot went just wide.
The champions had a lot of possession thereafter but could not break down a stubborn Derry defence. In the end the visitors deserved a point.
Shamrock Rovers: Oscar Jansson; Conor McCormack, Craig Sives, Graham Gartland, Conor Powell; Gary McCabe (Aaron Greene 80), Chris Turner, Ronan Finn, Billy Dennehy (Sean Gannon 85); Daryl Kavanagh, Gary Twigg (c).
Subs not used: Reyaad Pieterse, Colin Hawkins, Kerrea Gilbert, Stephen Rice, Gary O'Neill.
Booked: Sives (17), McCabe (36).
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Simon Madden, Eddie McCallion, Ryan McBride, Dermot McCaffery; Patrick McEleney, Barry Molloy (c), Ruaidhri Higgins, Matthew Crossan (Brian McGroary 32 (Shane McEleney 84)); David McDaid, Mark Farren (Ryan Curran 45).
Subs not used: Eugene Ferry, Michael Barr, Barry McNamee, Caoimhin Bonner.
Booked: P McEleney (22), Higgins (28), R McBride (81).
Sent off: P McEleney (70).
Referee: Anthony Buttimer (Cork).
Extratime.ie Man of the match: Gerard Doherty (Derry City).