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Kilduff saves Hoops' bacon

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Ciaran Kilduff, centre, Shamrock Rovers, celebrates scoring his side's stoppage time equalising goal with team-mates Rob Cornwall, left, and Ronan Finn. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Ciaran Kilduff, centre, Shamrock Rovers, celebrates scoring his side's stoppage time equalising goal with team-mates Rob Cornwall, left, and Ronan Finn. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Ciaran Kilduff, centre, Shamrock Rovers, celebrates scoring his side's stoppage time equalising goal with team-mates Rob Cornwall, left, and Ronan Finn. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

AS A TASTER for the new League of Ireland season, a 1-1 draw between Shamrock Rovers and Derry City, will not have given an appetite to the neutrals who were watching on live TV.

But at the end of a match summed up as "brutal" by Derry boss Roddy Collins, there was no concern from the Rovers fans about entertainment value, simply relief that their side have avoided what would have been a disastrous home defeat as an injury-time header from Ciaran Kilduff earned a point for the Hoops.

Rovers had been behind for most of the second half after a speculative cross/shot from Derry new boy Mark Stewart gave City the lead three minutes after the break, but Rovers took advantage of the six minutes of added time to nick that goal, Ryan Brennan the man who set up the chance for Kilduff, a striker who is now back 'home' at Rovers having spent much of last season on loan to Cork City.

DISAPPOINTED

"We are disappointed to go home with only a point when we could have had all three," said Derry 'keeper Ger Doherty. "We came here with a game plan and it worked apart from that late goal we conceded, maybe a draw was a fair result in terms of the possession Rovers had, but the main thing for us is that we came to Tallaght and didn't get beat.

"It might not have been a great game to watch but as long as we get the results, that's all that matters. We didn't lose the game last night and that's the main thing. It was just unfortunate that we conceded so late. It looked like we were going to hang on for the win.

"Rovers never got to grips with the way we set up, everything went to plan until we conceded. We will take the point, I have just said to the boys in the dressing room that it's a long, hard season and if you come to Tallaght and are disappointed to be going away with only a draw you are doing something right. We will have learned a lot from the game."

After a truly awful first half, certainly not one for the neutrals who may have been watching on live TV, the game burst into life three minutes into the second half when Derry took the lead.

It began with a run from midfield by Enda Curran, who passed to Barry Molloy.

He swept the ball into the path of Stewart and while the Scot's goalbound effort may have been more of a cross than a shot, it still managed to catch Rovers 'keeper Barry Murphy off guard and landed into the net, a nice introduction to Irish football for the ex-Kilmarnock man.

That did spark a reaction from Rovers who finally managed to create something. On 51 minutes City needed a stunning save from Ger Doherty to deny Ryan Brennan.

On 58 minutes Derry's veteran 'keeper pulled off another moment of magic, Doherty using his skills to keep out a vicious shot from Gary McCabe.

The misery continued for Rovers as they lost defender David O'Connor, who was making his league debut for the Hoops, on 65 minutes when he injured his ankle,

Three minutes later a penalty appeal, after Ciaran Kilduff went down in the box, was waved away.

With the arrival off the bench of Stephen McPhail, Rovers hoped that could engineer a goal.

Derry defender Aaron Barry tried his luck with a speculative lob on 83 minutes, and McPhail flashed a shot wide three minutes from time, as Derry's defensive shape, with Cliff Byrne superb at the back and Shane McEleney protecting the back four, kept Rovers at bay.

The game had gone into added time when Rovers finally got a goal. Derry's clearance from a Rovers attack was unconvincing, and the ball fell for Ryan Brennan who swung in a cross and Kilduff did what was needed and rose highest to head the ball past Doherty.

"Their goal was a bit of a freak goal and I hope I am not doing the guy an injustice in saying that," said Rovers boss Trevor Croly.

"They dug in even harder after that and we showed great character to get the goal at the end, we went at them and thankfully we got our goal. The first half was high on energy and maybe lacked in quality because of that. We can get better but that will come.

"We didn't do a hell of a lot wrong and a certain amount of credit to Derry, teams can do that to you, come and play like that but I was delighted with our character," added Croly, who is awaiting a fitness update on defender O'Connor.


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