Toothless Rovers lose direction in title quest
Shamrock Rovers 0 Bohemians 0
This was a strange kind of derby culminating in a point for Bohemians which probably came easier than they might have expected beforehand.
Owen Heary's side did have to weather periods of pressure in Tallaght but, on a night where table-toppers Dundalk pulverised another opponent, Trevor Croly's Shamrock Rovers danced around the ring without ever really striking a blow.
As a consequence, they now sit four points behind the Louthmen.
They had chances to claim the victory, most notably a late opportunity for Ciaran Kilduff, but they didn't create enough of them to reasonably feel any sense of injustice about the final outcome.
Indeed, the Bohs supporters who made their way home from Dublin 24 could also point to profligacy in counter-attack situations that might have yielded three points.
While the big event in Dublin last night was One Direction, the first half was closer to One Dimension with an absence of innovation.
Bohemians had more to gain from a tight affair given the gulf in resources and they set out with a shape to frustrate the hosts with Dave Mulcahy sat in front of the back four aided by the energy of Craig Walsh.
Rovers, who started with Kilduff and Eamon Zayed in a 4-4-2, were incapable of playing through the red and black lines with their passing laboured in the final third.
They were slow to convert their monopoly on possession into chances with Kilduff the only Hoop to call Dean Delany into real service in the first half as he wriggled into space and produced a left footer that was kept out by the foot of the netminder.
Indeed, as the minutes passed, Bohemians grew in confidence and nearly seized the initiative courtesy of a lung-bursting run by Walsh which left Rob Cornwall for dead with his intelligent cross swept into the side-netting at full tilt by Karl Moore.
That break hinted at fault lines in a youthful Rovers rearguard shorn of the injured Jason McGuinness and Conor Kenna, with Dave O'Connor partnering Cornwall as veteran poacher Jason Byrne sniffed around looking for breaks and finding a hesitancy that urged the visitors to press on.
O'Connor was duly caught napping by Steven Beattie who stole the ball from the dithering centre-half but skewed horribly wide when there was time to advance and give Barry Murphy something to worry about.
The home keeper was called into action just before the interval though when he parried a Byrne flick and was fortunate that Moore wasn't quite ready for the rebound.
That came at the end of a lively period where the game opened up on account of a setback that ended Mulcahy's participation with his replacement Roberto Lopes slow to find his feet and Rovers almost capitalising.
Former Bohs man Luke Byrne – a target for a pair of plastic bottles when taking a throw-in front of the away section – floated up the left flank and crossed for Kilduff whose volley arrowed the wrong side of the post.
Initially, the second half provided a snapshot of the first with Bohs menacing on the break and Byrne flapping at the end of a sharp advance.
Gradually, Rovers began to move the ball a little quicker though, with wingers Gary McCabe and Ronan Finn more involved centrally and giving the Gypsies far more difficulty and openings followed.
On the hour mark, a superb McCabe throughball paved the way for Simon Madden to test Delany in a frantic goalmouth scramble before the increasingly liberated Finn twice took aim from distance without joy.
The battery power of that dominant spell was limited, however, with Croly shuffling the pack to send in Sean O'Connor, Ryan Brennan and Dean Kelly in an attempt to inject a spark into the final 15 minutes.
Yet they only really forged one shot at glory and, when Kilduff was freed into space, his right-footer lacked the conviction to get past Delany.
That was a microcosm of the overall story.
Shamrock Rovers – Murphy, Madden, Cornwall, O'Connor, Byrne; Finn, McPhail (Brennan 79), Robinson, McCabe (O'Connor 73); Kilduff, Zayed (Kelly 83).
Bohemians – Delany, Murphy, Byrne, Price, Pender; Mulcahy (Lopes 43), Walsh; Beattie, Kavanagh, Moore (Devaney 76); Byrne.
REF – P Sutton (Clare).