rovers fail to pop cork
THERE were plenty of international caps, but just not enough class, to make an impact at Tallaght Stadium as the first high-profile game of the new season brought more dullness than delight.
Dundalk will see themselves as the big winners from last night's action as their comprehensive win at home to St Patrick's Athletic has already allowed the champions open up a gap on their likely contenders for the league title.
Shamrock Rovers and Cork City have genuine title ambitions this season but the sprinkling of star names could not influence the outcome in Tallaght last night, Rovers the better side but not good enough to carve out an opening.
The pre-match chatter focused largely on the internationals on view, and even though one of those ex-Ireland men started the game on the bench (Stephen McPhail), there was still the sight of class acts Keith Fahey, Liam Miller, Colin Healy and Alan Bennett in the starting line-ups.
Unfortunately, there was nothing to suggest international ability about the opening stages, all huff and puff until, late on in the first half, Rovers got a grip and created some chances.
Cork had some moments of very moderate danger early on and City could even have been in front on 19 minutes, when a slip by Rovers defender Dave Webster opened the door for Karl Sheppard, but the ex-Hoop merely fired a shot across the face of the goal, and on 28 minutes Garry Buckley should really have at least hit the target.
Half an hour into the game and Rovers finally stepped up a gear. Mikey Drennan and Patrick Cregg had opportunities while just before the half-time whistle Drennan had the best chance of the game. In for his full debut, the Kilkenny native leaped well to get his head to Kieran Marty Watters' cross and only the crossbar kept out the well-directed effort.
Cork obliterated Limerick on a 5-0 scoreline last weekend but John Caulfield will surely have used his half-time team talk to express his concern about the lack of a real threat from his side and even after the restart there was not much sign of life from the Cork attack as Rovers threatened again, McCabe with two efforts in the first few minutes of the half.
Rovers had some real quality to call from the bench, McPhail and Sean O'Connor introduced for the last 18 minutes, while new boy Drennan was still their main threat, heading wide from Simon Madden's cross with their last real effort.
shamrock rovers 0 cork city 0