Ryan Brennan blazes his spot kick over the crossbar at Oriel Park last night
Cork City are well and truly back in the Premier Division title race after Dundalk could only manage a 0-0 draw with Shamrock Rovers at Oriel Park.
The Lilywhites are now just one point ahead of the Leesiders with two games remaining, the final one being a meeting between the two sides on 24 October.
Dundalk had more of the play, while the Hoops had the best chance but saw Ryan Brennan blast his second-half penalty over the bar.
Things looked good for the home side early doors when Darren Meenan blazed past Luke Byrne with a lung-bursting run from his own half to pick out Kurtis Byrne at the back post but his first-time strike was always rising.
After that, nerves and slackness crept into the Lilywhites play and although Shamrock Rovers saw much of the ball, they failed to ever muster anything productive when in possession. A Kieran ‘Marty’ Waters drive straight at Peter Cherrie was all they had to show in terms of shots in the opening 45.
Despite Dundalk looking far from their best, they were still enough of a threat to keep Pat Fenlon prowling anxiously on the touchline. His heart would have been in his mouth when Daryl Horgan wove his way in from the wing to fire at goal but Barry Murphy saved.
The Hoops ‘keeper did not even have to earn his wages minutes later when the former Cork City winger ran through only to drag his attempt off target.
Richie Towell also failed to call Murphy into action and Kurtis Byrne did fire one on goal but the netminder scrambled to collect at the second attempt to end a somewhat low-key first half.
Patrick Hoban fashioned the first chance of the second period when he won a corner, which he then met with a strong header; too strong and it ended up over the bar.
And then on 76 minutes, Karl Sheppard gave Brennan the chance to become an adopted son of Cork when the striker got on to Ruaidhri Higgins’ loss of possession and was felled in the area by Peter Cherrie.
Brennan strode forward to take the kick but lost his footing at the vital moment and his effort went wildly over the top, and with it perhaps Cork’s title hopes.
Stephen O’Donnell fizzed a thunderous volley just off target and the drama was not quite finished there as Dundalk themselves were denied a spot kick when Simon Madden used his arm to nudge the ball away from O’Donnell in the box but Rogers was not interested in the claims, before sending off Cregg in the final moments for a second bookable offence.
Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Andy Boyle, Dane Massey; Chris Shields (Ruaidhri Higgins 73), Richie Towell; Darren Meenan, Kurtis Byrne (Stephen O’Donnell 59), Daryl Horgan (Marc Griffin 83), Patrick Hoban. Unused subs: Mark Rossiter, John Mountney, Donal McDermott, Gabriel Sava (GK).
Shamrock Rovers: Barry Murphy; Simon Madden, Conor Kenna, Jason McGuinness, Luke Byrne; Stephen McPhail, Ryan Brennan (Robert Bayly 91), Patrick Cregg; Gary McCabe (Karl Sheppard 67), Ciaran Kilduff, Kieran ‘Marty’ Waters (Dean Kelly 86). Unused subs: Robert Cornwall, Sean Heaney, Shane Robinson, Craig Hyland (GK).
Referee: Rob Rogers
Source: RTÉ Sport