2017 champions Cork City may have finally conceded their league title but a youthful Rebel Army eleven battled to a goalless draw with Shamrock Rovers on a cool dry night, ideal for football, at the Tallaght Stadium.
Stephen Bradley’s men spurned a hatful of chances and the home faithful in a fine attendance of 3,105 were left bemused as to how their side failed to pick up all three points.
City improved somewhat following the 46th minute introduction of Gearoid Morrissey and Conor McCarthy but the Hoops still carved out a number of second half chances through Greg Bolger, Sean Kavanagh, Ronan Finn and Aaron Greene but a winner proved elusive.
The Hoops dominated the opening period, forcing five corners to none for the visitors. Cork City goalkeeper Peter Cherrie was a busy man, saving an Aaron Greene shot with his feet and acrobatically tipping a superb Ronan Finn header over the bar.
Left back Ronan Hurley did well to block a goalbound Dan Carr effort while Aaron Barry took an Aaron Greene header off the line when the ex-Bray man looked destined to score. Barry also cleared a Carr cross after a fuble by Cherrie.
A much changed Cork City side, with assistant manager John Cotter taking up the touchline duties, were largely engaged in a containment exercise.
Kieran Sadlier has scored some spectacular goals in his time but, playing in a more central role behind Ronan Coughlan bef ore he made way for Gearoid Morrissey at half-time, he was restricted to a long range effort, City’s only attempt on goal in the first-half.
Barry McNamee did almost profit from a Rovers defensive error in the 62nd minute but was quickly closed down. Gearoid Morrissey also shot over the bar in a late rare City foray into the Rovers half.
Cork City’s attention will quickly focus to an Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup semi-final replay with Bohs while Rovers’ grip on third place is slightly loosened.