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3 penalties in 5 minutes help Shamrock Rovers survive scare

The Hoops narrowly overcame Finn Harps in the FAI Cup quarter-final today.

Shamrock Rovers' Roberto Lopes, Aaron McEneff, Dylan Watts and Ronan Finn celebrate winning.
Shamrock Rovers' Roberto Lopes, Aaron McEneff, Dylan Watts and Ronan Finn celebrate winning.
Image: Evan Logan/INPHO

Finn Harps 2

Shamrock Rovers 3

Alan Foley reports from Finn Park

SHAMROCK ROVERS were awarded three penalties in five second-half minutes, coming from two down to defeat a dogged Finn Harps in dramatic circumstances in their extra.ie FAI Cup quarter-final.

The hosts were two up through Barry McNamee and Stephen Folan at the break, before referee Rob Hennessey gave the visitors three spot kicks between the 49th and 54th minutes, two of which were scored and one missed by Aaron McEneff.

Then, 19 minutes from time, Graham Burke poked home the winners for the Premier Division champions to leave Harps manager Ollie Horgan furious with the officiating.

His team were good value for their first half double. Firstly, McNamee skipped into space following a squared ball from Adam Foley to shoot past Alan Mannus on 15 minutes. Then, on 21 minutes, Stephen Folan won a strong header from a Ryan Connolly free-kick by the corner flag to make it two.

At the break, Harps would’ve been well expecting a bite more than a bark from Rovers, who hadn’t been defeated all season domestically. Little did they know how it would evolve in a few, crazy minutes.

The first penalty was awarded when Liam Scales went down in the vicinity of Sam Todd. McEneff went low with power and Mark Anthony McGinley in the Harps goal saved. As the play continued, the ball broke to Ronan Finn, whose return clipped the arm of Mark Russell, who’d turned to protect his face. Penalty.

McEneff kept his head and won the battle of wits with McGinley to half the deficit and three minutes later, they’d be meeting again. This time, Burke had gone down under a challenge from the Harps goalkeeper, who protested his innocence. McEneff went bottom right and suddenly, three penalties later, it was 2-2.

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From then on, it was Rovers who sensed victory and Graham Burke provided the winner when he tucked home a rebound, after McGinley could only punch away a header from Jack Byrne on 71 minutes.

Harps felt like they weren’t getting the rub of the green and on an awkward pitch as showers came, went and swirled, nearly grabbed extra-time following a late scramble.

McEneff almost completed the most unlikely of hat-tricks when he shot from his own half just over an unguarded net, with McGinley up supporting the Harps attack.

Rovers live to fight another day; they’ll face Derry or Sligo Rovers in the semi-final.

Finn Harps: Mark Anthony McGinley; Karl O’Sullivan, Dave Webster, Stephen Folan, Sam Todd; Mark Coyle (Leo Donnellan 61), Gareth Harkin (Ruairi Harkin 61), Ryan Connolly, Mark Russell (Raff Cretero 74); Barry McNamee; Adam Foley (Alexander Kogler 74).

Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Joey O’Brien, Lee Grace (Roberto Lopes, half-time), Liam Scales, Danny Lafferty (Sean Kavanagh, half-time); Ronan Finn, Aaron McEneff, Dylan Watts, Aaron Greene (Thomas Oluwa 87); Jack Byrne, Graham Burke (Rhys Marshall 80).

Referee: Rob Hennessy.

About the author:

Alan Foley

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