SHAMROCK ROVERS fought back to deny Derry City a rare victory at Tallaght Stadium as the Dubliners stretched their record breaking unbeaten league run to 33 games thanks toRory Gaffney's controversial second half equaliser in an eventful clash at the rain-soaked Dublin venue.
Will Patching expertly gave Derry the lead from the penalty spot with his second goal of the season two minutes into the second half but Gaffney, who was denied superbly by Nathan Gartside at the end of the first half, fired into the bottom corner to salvage a point for the champions on 56 minutes.
Both teams were reduced to 10 men in the closing stages as Sean Hoare received a second booking on 82 minutes before ex-Shamrock Rovers wingback Danny Lafferty was shown a red card by referee, Graham Kelly for his second bookable offence in the 90th minute.
It was Derry's seventh point from a possible nine away from home since Ruaidhri Higgins took charge and it takes the Candy Stripes to 10 points as they remain in eighth spot in the Premier Division table.
Higgins made two changes from the team which drew against Longford Town at Brandywell in their last outing with Joe Thomson replacing Jack Malone in the middle of the park. Danny Lafferty also retuned to the starting XI against his former club at the expense of Will Fitzgerald who started the game on the bench.
The Candy Stripes started the game 17 points behind the Hoops but knowing a first victory at Tallaght since August 2017 would move them above Dundalk and potentially into sixth spot.
While the Foylesiders came into the game on the back of a defeat and a draw at home to Finn Harps and Longford respectively, they came seeking a third away win on the trot.
It was always going to be a tough ask against the champions who were intent on extending their record unbeaten league run.
Rovers started sharply and earned a free-kick 20 yards from the Derry goal when Ciaran Col was adjudged to have brought down Burke. Up stepped Burke to take the free-kick but he sent his effort over the crossbar after just two minutes.
Derry won a free-kick of their own on 10 minutes and when Will Patching floated it towards the back post Lafferty sent a free header back across the face of goal but Sean Hoare headed it clear.
Ronan Finn brought down Patching just outside the penalty area on 25 minutes and the former Man City midfielder curled the resultant free-kick wide of the mark but it was encouraging for the Candy Stripes.
Danny Mandriou did well to make space with a neat dummy which got him away from Ciaran Harkin before his deflected shot from distance went behind for a corner as Rovers enjoyed a decent spell of pressure.
Gaffney then played a neat one-two with Burke on the edge of the Derry penalty area and the Ireland international striker forced a save from Gartside who turned the ball behind for a corner on 32 minutes.
Burke attempted an audacious flick with his heel at the near post following a short corner but Parkhouse was alert to the danger and managed to deflect it behind for another corner.
Derry caught Rovers on the break when Akintunde did well to dispossess Lee Grace just inside the visitors' half and when the Englishman found Parkhouse, the City striker fired over the crossbar from the 18 yards box.
At the other end Rovers fashioned their best chance of the half when Burke played substitute, Sean Gannon into space on the right. Gannon's low cross struck the heel of Ronan Finn and fell fortuitously into the path of Gaffney who took a touch before unleashing a left-footed strike at goal which Gartside saved superbly at point blank range to keep Derry on level terms five minutes before the interval.
There was a dramatic start to the second half as less than two minutes after the restart Patching played Akintunde through on goal and the striker was brought down inside the penalty area by Hoare and the referee pointed to the spot and flashed a yellow card in the direction of the Rovers defender.
Up stepped Patching to take the spotkick and he sent Alan Mannus the wrong way to give Derry the lead with his second goal of the season from the penalty spot. The goal was Derry's 2,300th in all competitions
Liam Scales had a decent chance with a header two minutes later but sent his effort the wrong side of the post with Gaffney seemingly getting in his way.
The Hoops were back on level terms on 56 minutes on controversial circumstances.as Scales took a quick throw-in 20 yards from where the ball went out of play and played Gaffney in behind McJannet, before the striker buried his shot into the far corner of the net for his fourth goal of the season.
Mandroui dragged a shot wide of Gartside's right post just short of the hour mark as Rovers went in search of a second. However, the Dubliners were dealt a blow on 83 minutes when Hoare, who was earlier booked for bringing down Akintunde for the penalty, was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Harkin as Rovers faced the final seven plus minutes with 10 men.
Patching sent a free-kick over the crossbar with five minutes to go before the Derry playmaker's strike from the edge of the box was blocked bravely by Roberto Lopes in the final minute.
Lafferty was then shown his second yellow card of the evening for a block on the edge of the Rovers box as Derry were also reduced to 10 men for the five minutes of stoppage time added.
Neither side could find a late winner but it was an excellent point for Derry who remain unbeaten on the road under Higgins
Shamrock Rovers: A. Mannus; L. Grace, R. Lopes, S. Hoare; L. Scales, D. Watts (S. Gannon 23) , G. O'Neill, R. Finn; G. Burke, R. Gaffney (A. Emakho 88), D. Mandroiu; Subs Not Used - J. Pohls, C. Omorehiomwan, M. Murphy, D. Williams, C. Noonan, A. Wells, D. Nugent.
Derry City: N. Gartside; R. Boyce, E. Toal, C. McJannet, C. Coll; J. Akintunde (M. Walsh 77), C. Harkin, J. Thomson72) (D. Cole , D. Lafferty; W. Patching; D. Parkhouse (W Fitzgerald 64); Subs Not Used - J. Lemoignan, D. Lupano, M. McChrystal, D. Cole, B. Barr, C. McLaughlin, P. Ferry.
Referee: Graham Kelly.