TWO GOALS in the final 16 minutes saw Shamrock Rovers overcome Finn Harps to equal a long-standing record.
Finn Harps 0 Shamrock Rovers 2
By Chris McNulty at Finn Park
Rory Gaffney and Sean Hoare netted to give the champions the win to leave Harps utterly frustrated.
Gaffney’s opener arrived just when it seemed as if stubborn Harps would do enough to share the spoils.
For good measure, Hoare headed in a second and it’s four games without a win – or a goal – for Harps, who saw manager Ollie Horgan sent off for his protests against the free kick that led to Hoare’s goal.
Victory sees Rovers’ unbeaten sequence move into 30 games – levelling their own LOI record.
Harps’ hearts were in their mouths just three minutes in when Graham Burke hit the deck inside the Town End penalty area under a challenge by Dave Webster.
Referee Rob Hennessy – who infamously awarded the Hoops three penalties as they came from 2-0 down to overcome Harps 3-2 in a madcap FAI Cup game last season – waved away the appeals, booking Burke for simulation.
Harps handed a first start of the season to Stephen Doherty, who came in for Mark Russell. The 19-year-old Illies man had Harps’ first attempt on goal, but a tidy left-footed effort in the ninth minute bent over the top after Lee Grace’s header fell invitingly.
Harps had a moment of promise on the half-hour, but a teasing ball across the goal face by former Rovers player Ethan Boyle wasn’t met.
Harps’ recent form against Rovers was wretched, with their last win coming in November 2008, on a night when a Paul Hegarty-managed Harps were relegated in spite of a 2-0 win.
Stephen Bradley restored captain Ronan Finn, Gary O’Neill, Rory Gaffney and Joey O’Brien to his line-up, with Roberto Lopes absent from the squad.
Although Rovers had plenty of the ball, the visitors rarely threatened Mark Anthony McGinley’s goal.
Twenty minutes from the end, Harps looked energised when Russell swept wide for Karl O’Sullivan, whose dangerous low ball was a fraction too early for he inrushing Tunde Owolabi.
Just as Harps were daring to be brave, disaster struck as Gaffney bagged the opener and the night unravelled.
Finn Harps: Mark Anthony McGinley; Ethan Boyle, Dave Webster, Kosovar Sadiki, Johnny Dunleavy; Mark Coyle (Niall McGinley 86), Will Seymore; Karl O’Sullivan (Mark Timlin 84), Barry McNamee (Ryan Shanley 84), Stephen Doherty (Mark Russell 64); Adam Foley (Tunde Owolabi 64).
Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Sean Hoare, Joey O’Brien (Sean Gannon 73), Lee Grace; Ronan Finn, Dylan Watts, Liam Scales; Gary O’Neill, Danny Mandroiu (Darragh Nugent 84); Graham Burke (Aaron Greene 64); Rory Gaffney (Dean Williams 84).
Referee: Rob Hennessy.Tags: