A last gasp Rodrigo Tosi strike was enough earn a well deserved 1-1 draw for Limerick FC at Tallaght Stadium last night as interim boss Willie Boland extends his unbeaten league run.
Rovers looked set for a win that would move them level on points with the Blues in third after Roberto Lopes’ had given them a lead they held onto for more than 70 minutes until Tosi’s intervention at the death.
It was Lopes’ first goal for Rovers since making the move from Bohemians. He took is goal with clinical accuracy as he glanced home Graham Burke’s perfectly-weighted corner with just 18 minutes on the clock.
Rovers really should have been two to the good five minutes later when captain Ronan Finn forced his way into the box before squaring for striker Gary Shaw.
However from five yards out, with the goal at his mercy, Shaw managed to pull his attempt across the goal and wide.
It was a terrible miss that would ultimately prove very costly at the end of the evening.
Limerick’s Paul O’Conor led the field injured and was replaced by Bastien Hery.
Limerick stated to get a bit of a foothold in the game towards the half and quick break through the pacey Dean Clarke almost yielding a chance for Tosi.
Sub Hery registered the Blues’ first shot on target from open play on the stroke of half time as he curled a shot after good work from Lee-J Lynch, but it was an easy save for Tomer Chencinski.
The Canadian keeper looked uncertain any time Limerick put the ball into the box, which was too infrequent for the aerially-domineering Tosi.
The teams appeared to swap tactics after the break as Limerick looked to take the initiative while Rovers sat back.
Stephen Bradley introduced Sam Bone and James Doona for wingers Darren Meenan and Brandon Miele as he tried to see out the game and secure the win.
Chencinski was again called into action just after the hour as he turned the ball around the post after Lynch crossed deep in the direction of the imposing Tosi, and Lopes inadvertently deflected the ball towards goal.
Tosi was a constant menace in the box and had Rovers defenders worried with every delivery.
Miele tested Brendan Clarke from just outside the box before Limerick captain Shane Duggan again exposed Chencinski’s vulnerabilities with a snapshot the Canadian punched wildly behind.
Willie Boland brought on John O’Flynn for his obligatory ten-minute cameo and he impacted immediately, nodding the ball down for Tosi who, after a rare mistake from Lopes, seemed destined to score only for the defender to throw his body on the line to protect his goal.
It was to prove futile as, with only seconds remaining in normal time, Ogbene showed Luke Byrne – making his first appearance since suffering cruciate ligament damager 12 months ago – a clean pair of heels.
The Corkman careered into the box before pulling the ball coolly back towards O’Flynn, who missed his kick, and on to Tosi, who stretched to send the ball into the roof of the net and the away bench into hysterics on the touchline.
Shamrock Rovers: Tomer Chencinski; Simon Madden, David Webster, Daniel Devine, Roberto Lopes, Luke Byrne; David McAllister (Paul Corry 74), Ronan Finn, Darren Meenan (Sam Bone 59), Brandon Miele (Janes Doona 67); Graham Burke, Gary Shaw.
Subs not used: Kevin Horgan (gk), Shane Hanney, Aaron Dobbs, Sean Boyd.
Booked: Brandon Miele (36), Sam Bone (67),
Limerick: Brendan Clarke; Shaun Kelly, Robbie Williams, Tony Whitehead, Tommy Robson; Shane Duggan, Paul O’Conor (Bastien Hery 28), Lee-J Lynch, Chiedozie Ogbene, Dean Clarke (John O’Flynn 82); Rodrigo Tosi (Tommy Walsh 90+2).
Subs not used: Freddy Hall (gk), David O’Connor, Tobias Kainz, Chris Mulhall.
Booked: Chiedozie Ogbene (78), Brendan Clarke (80), Rodrigo Tosi (90+1).
Referee: Derek Tomney
Attendance: 2,570 (official)