Gaffney rescues Rovers with late equaliser in Sligo

By Daire Walsh

Rory Gaffney came to the rescue of Shamrock Rovers at the Showgrounds this evening as his 88th-minute goal secured a 1-1 draw for the defending champions in a tightly-contested Premier Division clash.

Walter Figueira had placed their opponents - Sligo Rovers - on a brink of victory with a late finish, but substitute Gaffney pounced to extend his side’s unbeaten league run to 25 matches.

Alan Mannus

Shamrock Rovers keeper Alan Mannus was in action against Sligo Rovers 

Managed by Perrystown native Liam Buckley - who enjoyed no fewer than three spells at the Hoops as a player and served as their manager from 2002 to 2004 - Sligo have enjoyed a promising start to the campaign. A run of two wins and one draw had them three points clear of their Metropolitan counterparts, albeit with a game more played.

Stephen Bradley’s title holders were aiming to build on last Friday week’s home win over Dundalk and made a bright start to the contest. With 15 minutes gone on the clock, Graham Burke had a low strike turned away by opposite netminder Ed McGinty.

Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley

Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley saw his team battle back for a share of the spoils in The Showgrounds

Equally, Alan Mannus was forced into action on the half-hour mark - the Northern Ireland international producing a fine stop to deny his former team-mate, Greg Bolger. It proved to be quite an even first half, with neither side creating too many clear-cut opportunities.

It remained delicately poised on the resumption and the sides were still scoreless when Sean Gannon and Gaffney were introduced for Ronan Finn and Burke on 77 minutes.

 

The Tallaght outfit were suddenly staring defeat in the face when Figueira shook the back of their net inside the closing 10 minutes. Like when they fell behind late on against St Patrick’s Athletic on the opening day of the campaign, however, the Hoops’ response was emphatic.

A Gaffney effort with two minutes remaining on the clock deflected off a Sligo defender and beyond the reach of McGinty.

While on the surface it may appear like two points dropped, Shamrock Rovers may be quietly happy to have once again claimed a share of the spoils in dramatic circumstances.

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