Heary anger as Shels draw on late penalty

by Stephen Findlater
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A last-minute penalty denied Shelbourne all three points against fellow promotion-chasers Drogheda United at Tolka Park on bank holiday Monday.

Substitute Dayle Rooney had put the Reds in front 15 minutes from time but Alan Byrne was sent off before Sean Brennan converted from the spot at the death.

The visitors came into the match knowing a win of any stripe would see them above UCD into first position in the First Division.

For Owen Heary’s Shels, a win would take them within a point of their opponents and three points off top spot.

It seemed as the Reds had done enough to take three points from a poor game, thanks to Rooney’s moment of quality.

The stifling heat – added to the fact both sides had played on Friday night – contributed to a slow-paced game of few chances.

The most notable action of the first half came not from one of the 22 players on the pitch but from referee Derek Tomney, who called a mandatory water break on 25 minutes.

Tomney would continue to be central to the action as he opted not to punish Drogheda captain Sean Brennan for what looked like an elbow on Derek Prendergast.

The midfielder appeared to wave his arm recklessly when competing for the ball with the Shelbourne defender, who had treatment on a gaping wound from his eyebrow.

Heary introduced midfielder Dayle Rooney for Cian Kavanagh at the break and the teenager’s energy allowed Shels to up the tempo in the second half.

It was his gamble to run beyond striker David O’Sullivan that proved the catalyst for the goal as he latched onto a flick from the league’s top scorer.

Rooney still had plenty to do as he broke between Drogheda’s centre halves and shrugged off a pull on his shirt to volley into the top corner.

Shels looked to be coasting until Alan Byrne, who had earlier been booked for a foul on left-back Conor Kane, was cautioned again for another foul on the former St Patrick’s Athletic man.

And Drogs got their chance as the clock ticked down and Mark Doyle ran in on goal before falling under the challenge of Shels keeper Dean Delany – who protested his innocence.

Heary was sent to the stands for his objections, but it was no bother to Brennan, who sent Delany the wrong way from the spot to take a share of the spoils.

“I don’t think it was a good game to be honest,” Heary told the Dublin Gazette.

“The heat played a major factor, and the fact the two of us played on Friday. There were a lot of tired legs. We didn’t pass the ball as well as we could.

“Against your closest rivals you’re looking to pick up points and we’ve done that, and we’re unbeaten here, it’s another point.

“When you go 1-0 up with a couple of minutes left, you’re hoping to hang on and he sends off Alan Byrne, and the penalty decision he gives.

“According to Deano, he’s pulled away. He’s missed another decision where Brennan’s given Derek an elbow and he’s said ‘no, it didn’t happen.’ It’s frustrating.”

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