Sligo boss Ian Baraclough was forced to prepare for the game without injured duo Aaron Greene (toe) and Danny Ventre (leg). Lee Lynch took his place in the champions' midfield in place of David Cawley who missed out through suspension due to an accumulation of yellow cards. Raffaele Cretaro returned to the starting eleven in place of Anthony Elding having been passed fit following a substitute appearance against Molde FK in the Champions League during the week, while Iarfhlaith Davoren replaced Ross Gaynor having been declared fully fit during the week.
Shamrock Rovers claimed their twelfth draw of this year's Airtricity League as they earned a point at the Showgrounds on Saturday night following a pulsating scoreless draw. Sligo will see this as two points dropped however having passed up several great opportunities to win the game with the league champions dominating the Hoops for large parts of the tie. The Bit o'Red struck the post once in either half through Joseph Ndo and David McMillan, while McMillan saw his 48th minute spot-kick saved by Hoops' goalkeeper Richard Brush.
Shamrock Rovers were again without David Elebert (calf) while former Sligo netminder Brush continued to deputise in place of injured first choice goalkeeper Barry Murphy (neck) who failed to pass a late fitness test. Pat Sullivan missed out due to suspension. Trevor Croly made four changes from Tuesday night's EA Sports Cup victory over Saint Patrick's Athletic. Conor Powell, Stephen Rice, Ronan Finn and Sean O'Connor replacing Danny Ledwith, Gary McCabe, James Chambers and Billy Dennehy.
The pace of the game was frantic from the start with both teams looking to earn an early advantage.The first clear cut opportunity of the tie came on seven minutes. Alan Keane's cross from the right was well dealt with by Ken Oman before the ball fell to Lynch ten yards from goal, but the former Drogheda man failed to make the necessary contact on the ball much to the relief of the grateful Brush.
Sean O'Connor failed to trouble Sligo net minder Gary Rogers with a quarter of an hour played as his free from the edge of the Sligo box was easily claimed by the Bit o'Red number one, after Karl Sheppard was taken down by an over zealous Davoren challenge.
Croly was forced to withdraw playmaker Mark Quigley with just 20 minutes played as he went down with what looked like a repeat of a troublesome hamstring injury which the former Sligo striker has been plagued with all season. Quigley left the pitch to a standing ovation from both the home and away crowd.
The champions went close twice in succession three minutes later. Evan McMillan blasted over the Hoops crossbar 30 seconds before the Bit o'Red returned on the attack. Brush managing to hold on to a stinging Kieran Djilali effort from 20 yards after the tricky winger did well to carve out ample shooting space in front of the Shamrock Rovers defence.
Sligo weren't taking their chances and this time it was Cretaro who was guilty of failing to take the initiative. Djilali's through ball finding the Tubbercurry man, but both Oman and Conor McCormack did enough to force Cretaro off the ball as he looked to pull the trigger inside the Hoops six yard box.
Joseph Ndo almost caught Brush unawares on 33 minutes. Oman's foul on David McMillan led to a Sligo free at the angle. Ndo's low drive looked as if it had caught Brush out at his near post, but the woodwork was there to save the Hoops.
The Tallaght side began to stamp their authority on the game and were the better side in the dying stages of the first half. Sheppard saw his looping header sail over Rogers crossbar ten minutes from the interval before the former Bray man turned provider a minute later. McCabe's searching ball to the far post was met by O'Connor's left boot but he could only manage to steer the ball harmlessly away for a goal kick under the close attention of Gavin Peers.
McCormack tried his luck from 35 yards with two minutes of the first half remaining. The former Manchester United man taking advantage of space after the ball was recycled back to him following a O'Connor set piece from 20 yards, but McCormack's volley drifted high into the Sligo evening sky.
Sligo passed up yet another golden opportunity with just three minutes of the second half elapsed and this time it was from the penalty spot. Ronan Finn upended Evan McMillan inside the penalty area before brother David saw his penalty saved low down to his right by Brush.
Sheppard again headed wide under some good Peers pressure on 52 minutes when he latched on to the end of a Powell cross from the left. The former Blackburn trainee doing enough to put Sheppard off his stride. O'Connor then screwed his effort from distance away from goal and to safety two minutes later.
Sligo struck the woodwork again on 57 minutes as Cretaro found David McMillan with a neatly lobbed through ball over the head of Ken Oman, McMillan - one on one - was unlucky to see his shot come back off Brush's post.
Djilali failed to hit the target on 65 minutes following a great Sligo move which involved some neat interplay between Conneely, Ndo and Lynch. The former Crystal Palace winger finding it tough under the pressure of the stubborn Powell.
Baraclough introduced Danny North to the fray on 67 minutes and the move almost paid dividends two minutes later as Brush had to acrobatically push the striker's ferocious drive from 20 yards over his crossbar.
An unchallenged Evan McMillan headed wide from a Djilali corner 15 minutes from time. Sligo were then forced to withdraw substitute Ross Gaynor on 84 minutes through injury, Anthony Elding his replacement.
Conneely then surrendered possession in the middle of the park a minute later as he failed to control a simple Ndo pass. The ball filtered through to Finn but his shot was well saved by Rogers. Substitute Eamon Zayed was denied by the legs of Peers three minutes into injury time at the end of the second period, before Peers repeated the heroics a minute later as he robbed McCabe of possession just as the midfielder looked to shoot.
Sligo Rovers: Gary Rogers; Alan Keane, Gavin Peers, Evan McMillan, Iarfhlaith Davoren; Raffaele Cretaro, Lee Lynch (Danny North 67), Seamus Conneely, Joseph Ndo, Kieran Djilali; David McMillan ((Ross Gaynor 74 (Elding 84)).
Subs not used: Ciaran Kelly, Jeff Hederson, Liam Martin.
Shamrock Rovers: Richard Brush; Conor McCormack, Jason McGuinness, Ken Oman, Conor Powell; Sean O'Connor (for Billy Dennehy 89), Stephen Rice, Ronan Finn, Shane Robinson; Karl Sheppard (for Eamon Zayed 82); Mark Quigley (Gary McCabe 20).
Subs not used: Barry Murphy, Derek Foran, James Chambers, Danny Ledwith.
Referee: Neil Doyle (Dublin)