St Pat's boss Stephen O'Donnell celebrates birth of baby girl with a point in Tallaght
Shamrock Rovers 0 St Patrick’s Athletic 0
September 20, 2019 is a day that Stephen O’Donnell was always going to remember fondly.
That was set in stone before the rookie boss brought his St Patrick’s Athletic side to Tallaght. His wife Michelle gave birth to their first child, a girl, in the morning.
Work didn’t succeed in killing the good vibes with the Saints showing signs of evolution under their new boss by taking a point from their southside neighbours to frustrate his former Arsenal colleague Stephen Bradley.
O’Donnell’s side had struggled to break down a stubborn UCD last week, and probably would have expected to do more defending here - yet it was only in the latter stages that they were truly under the cosh.
The Saints started with purpose, whereas Rovers were sluggish.
Bradley did go with a similar system to the guests by operating a back three, with recognised left full Daniel Lafferty featuring on the right side of that three.
Jack Byrne and Graham Burke were positioned as attacking midfielders behind lone striker Aaron Greene but the Saints had a good shape with Lee Desmond and Cian Coleman keeping the Irish internationals quiet.
Indeed, the closest that Rovers came to scoring in the first half was on the counter with Aaron Greene firing narrowly wide. Goalkeeper Alan Mannus was their most effective performer, making a pair of big saves from Lee Desmond and Kevin Toner.
The hosts’ did start to keep the ball better and push a bit further up the park and really stepped things up after the interval with Byrne starting to have an influence. His free kick invited a Lee Grace header and a smart stop from Brendan Clarke with a valid Rovers penalty shout waved away in the aftermath.
Young striker Thomas Oluwa did add a spark to the Rovers front line, teeing up Sean Kavanagh who failed to get the better of Clarke on two occasions in Rovers’ best spell. When Kavanagh’s header did find a way past Clarke at the death, Ciaran Kelly was on hand to clear to safety.
Rovers will need to do better in a season defining cup semi final with Bohemians next Friday; Bradley must now decide how to approach Monday’s trip to a Dundalk side that can wrap up the title on the night.
O’Donnell played his part in that, but he’s on a different journey now.
Shamrock Rovers: Mannus, Lafferty, Lopes, Grace; Boyle, Bolger (O’Neill 71), Watts, S Kavanagh; Byrne, Burke; Greene (Oluwa 76)
St Patrick’s Athletic: B Clarke, Webster, Kelly, Toner; D Clarke, Coleman, Desmond, Bermingham (Doona 71); McCabe (Forrester 39), Markey (McAuley 81); Drennan.
Referee: Rob Harvey (Dublin)