Despite a second minute back-post header from Philip Gorman that whistled wide, the visitors were largely on the backfoot from the opening whistle, with Ciaran Kilduff heading straight at Chris Bennion from Conor Powell’s cross in the 3rd minute.
Within four minutes, the Hoops could have taken the lead following another sortie down Shelbourne’s right flank, with Ronan Finn’s teasing cross directed wide by Kilduff from eight yards.
That brief, early period of dominance gradually ceased as Shelbourne began to play with a greater degree of confidence, as reflected in Glen Cronin’s speculative 25-yard volley that narrowly rose over the crossbar in the 20th minute.
However, the high defensive line they adopted looked progressively threadbare as the hosts look to avail of the generous amount of space behind them, with only Gary McCabe’s heavy touch preventing a genuine scoring chance in the 23rd minute.
The pressure was building gradually and eventually it told as the Hoops broke the deadlock five minutes later. Tommy Stewart released Kilduff down the centre and the former UCD man rounded Bennion with ease before guiding the ball into the empty net.
A second goal almost arrived eight minutes before the break with Kilduff once again centrally involved as he teed up Stephen Rice for a powerful low shot that Bennion did well to parry away to safety.
Although Ronan Finn went close within three minutes of the restart, the locals were stunned in the 52nd minute as David Cassidy’s sublime through ball got the reward it deserved as Paddy Kavanagh showed great composure in slotting home beyond the exposed Oscar Jansson from twelve yards.
Gary Twigg’s introduction for the final 15 minutes gave Rovers an added attacking dimension but their unease in defence was punished as the Reds took the lead in the 77th minute.
Craig Sives dithered fatally in allowing Cassidy to block his attempted clearance and the ball fell kindly to Gorman, who produced an audacious chip over the stranded Jansson from 14 yards.
The ebb and flow continued with Shelbourne looking likely to add to their tally but they got caught on the counter-attack as Finn raced unopposed from the halfway line before unleashing a precise finish from 20 yards low to Bennion’s right.
The contest, which seemed destined for a tension-filled conclusion, got the ending it deserved in the 92nd minute as Kavanagh raced clear again and despite rounding Jansson, his attempts to claim the three points were interrupted by Sives, who produced a wonderful goal-line clearance to salvage a point for his side.
SHAMROCK ROVERS: Jansson; Sullivan, Sives, Hawkins, Powell; Brennan (Greene, 68), Rice, Finn, McCabe; Stewart (O’Neill, 86), Kilduff (Twigg, 75).
SHELBOURNE: Bennion; Ryan, Boyle, Paisley, S Byrne; Murphy (C Byrne, 68), Hurley, Cronin, Kavanagh; Cassidy (Clancy, 87) Gorman (Hughes, 80).
Referee: D Tomney (Dublin).