drenann rescues rovers to stall dundalk
shamrock rvs 2 dundalk 2
THE defending would have made both managers tear their hair out, but Ireland boss Martin O'Neill picked a good night in terms of entertainment for a rare scouting mission on the domestic scene.
It was honours even at Tallaght Stadium as old foes Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk played out a 2-2 draw, on a night when the two best defences in the league took the day off and when Ireland U21 cap Mikey Drennan made a name for himself among the Rovers supporters by coming up with two goals to get his side back in the game and prevented Dundalk from marching further away at the top of the table.
Dundalk led 2-0 early in the second half, having punished two defensive errors from the home side but Stephen Kenny's side came up with lapses of their own and ex-Aston Villa man Drennan scored twice - almost netting a hat-trick - to give Rovers a point.
It was Dundalk who had started the better side, decent chances from Daryl Horgan in the opening minutes, including a cross which came off the crossbar.
Rovers' best moment in the opening half came on 14 minutes, when a clever cross from Simon Madden teed up a chance for Drennan, but his header went wide.
Rovers almost handed Dundalk a way into the game on 28 minutes, when Ryan Brennan tracked back into his own half and played a dangerous cross-fields ball which Darren Meenan got hold of, but keeper Ian Hyland saved well. But just before half time Rovers would be punished for more slack defending, Conor Kenna caught in possession by McMillan who slid home his fifth goal of the season.
Just 13 seconds into the second half and Dundalk were 2-0 up, again the Rovers defence at fault as Ronan Finn powered past an off-focus David Webster and scored his first goal for his new club.
The game turned the home side's way on 52 minutes. The usually-reliable Brian Gartland dithered on the edge of the box and waited for keeper Rogers to collect, but Drennan nipped in to poke the ball into Ryan Brennan's path and Rogers committed the foul which earned him a red card and give Rovers a penalty, which Drennan scored past sub keeper Gabriel Sava.
Drennan pounced again on 60 minutes as Andy Boyle was guilty of ball-watching, the Kilkenny lad sending a stunning strike past Sava. Drennan could even have nicked a winner four minutes from time after he was set up by Brandon Miele but he shot over, while McMillan also came close to an injury time winner, tempers boiling over at the end as Rovers assistant boss Glenn Cronin was sent to the stand.