Graham rescues Rovers
Shamrock Rvs 1 Waterford FC 1
Graham Burke has scored so many spectacular goals for Shamrock Rovers this season that some supporters began to wonder if he was capable of the ordinary as well.
Burke, still on a high since he heard of his call-up to the Ireland squad for a three-game series of internationals in the weeks ahead, will not count his goal in last night's 1-1 draw with Waterford as a classic.
But it was a vital goal for the Hoops, who managed to overcome a poor first half display to recover from a 1-0 deficit at the break and get their way back into the game, and get a point, against a good Waterford side who remain in the top three and on the tails of Cork City and Dundalk.
This goal, a scrappy header 16 minutes from time, was less about impressing Martin O'Neill and more about rescuing his club side, as that equaliser at home to Waterford prevented Rovers from sliding to what would have been their eighth defeat in just 17 games this season.
O'Neill was on hand to see Burke's stunning strike in a recent win over Cork City: last night at Tallaght Stadium all Burke had to do was nod home from close range after team-mate Dan Carr did the donkey work with a well-worked cross, that goal cancelling out a stunning first-half strike from Gavan Holohan.
Rovers were behind for a third of this game, were second best for the first half and it took a half-time switch of personnel and formation for them to get their teeth into the game, though points dropped here and a win for St Patrick's Athletic sees Rovers drop out of the top half, however it could have been a lot worse only for Burke's goal, a draw in front of 2,349 a fair outcome.
Based on recent results, Waterford were the form side ahead of this game and Alan Reynolds' side, playing a league game at Tallaght Stadium for the first time, looked perfectly at home and at ease, in control in the early stages and in the lead after 38 minutes.
Waterford, indeed, took the game to Rovers from the off, three chances in the first ten minutes alone, Tomer Chencinski saving from Gavan Hololan after earlier efforts from Bastien Hery and Ismahil Akinade.
Rovers took their time to gain some possession, a good ball from Sean Kavanagh teeing up a chance on 20 minutes which Ethan Boyle just missed, while on 25 minutes Graham Burke watched as his shot was blocked by Rory Feely.
Things went quiet for a spell before Holohan fired the Blues into the lead seven minutes from time, the Kilkenny native picking up on to a ball from Stanley Aborah and his long range shot caught keeper Chencinski off guard.
Rovers boss Stephen Bradley reacted to that sub-par first half by making changes at the break, Gary Shaw and Ally Gilchrist called ashore with attackers Dan Carr and Brandon Miele asked to contribute, and with a flat back four Rovers looked more of a team. It took them untiil the 61st minute, and a Ronan Finn effort, to test keeper Lawrence Vigoroux,
And sub Carr can claim much of the credit for the goal on 74 minutes as his cross from the left fell for the unmarked Burke at the far post, a key goal for the Hoops.
Brandon Miele and Carr pressed again for the home side but they had to settle for a point while Waterford will be pleased to remain up there in the top three.