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Monday, March 20, 2023

Eight-goal thriller in Tallaght as Shamrock Rovers grab last-gasp draw against Cork City

A fortress that was impregnable to domestic visitors for almost two years, Tallaght Stadium has now been breached twice in the space of four days with yet another result which poses huge questions about Shamrock Rovers’ ability to retain their title this year.

ome form was one of the foundations of their three in-a-row success but some appalling defending by Rovers made it far too easy for a Cork City side who deserved more one than one point from an absorbing 4-4 draw. Sub Seán Hoare got the key equalising goal for Rovers seven minutes into injury time.

Darragh Crowley was one of the standout players in a vibrant young City side with two goals as the Hoops conceded four at home in a league game for the first time in five years and they remain in the bottom two despite avoiding defeat here.

It started well for them as a set-piece on 14 minutes gave them their opening. City didn’t deal with Jack Byrne’s corner, ’keeper Jimmy Corcoran had to save twice but Rory Gaffney remained patient, took a calm touch in the box, found an opening and fired home into the roof of the net.

Cork assumed supremacy with a superb five-minute spell. On 33 minutes, a well-worked move saw Aaron Bolger set up Cian Bargary out wide, his cross into the box should have been cleared but Ruairí Keating was able to steal in and score. On 38 minutes City were ahead. Alan Mannus came out of his goal to make a clearance but the ball fell to Crowley who spotted him well off his line. Crowley struck first time and the back-pedalling Mannus could not keep the effort out.

Rovers needed something different to overturn the deficit and Neil Farrugia was brought on at the break. Their second goal, like the first, was from a set-piece, Byrne with the corner and Cork’s defenders were slack in allowing Lee Grace get a free header to equalise.

City were back in front four minutes later. Matt Healy’s free-kick caused danger in the box, Cian Coleman got a vital touch and sub Kevin Custovic picked his spot to fire past Mannus, then Crowley got that fourth goal in the 69th minute. The impressive Keating played the ball out to Bargary and Rovers should have dealt with his cross in to Crowley but, once again, the Hoops’ defending was dismal and Crowley could not believe his luck as he sent home a left-foot shot from close range.

Sub Simon Power go on the end of a Byrne free kick on 83 minutes to make it 4-3, with a significant delay after a clash of heads between Trevor Clarke and Aaron Bolger and in added time Hoare headed home from another corner to level things, no more goals in a frantic spell of added time despite intense Rovers pressure, entertainment for the neutrals but so much work for Rovers to do as they await a first win in 2023.

SHAMROCK ROVERS – Mannus; Grace, Cleary, O’Neill (Hoare 71); Nugent (Farrugia 46), Watts (Towell 71), Poom (Burke 56), Clarke; Byrne; Kenny (Power 63), Gaffney.

CORK CITY – Corcoran; Walker (Custovic 37, Hakkinen 88), Coleman, Gilchrist, Honohan; Bolger (Winbo 93); Bargary, Healy, Crowley, Krezic (Varian 63); Keating.

REF – R Harvey.

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