back at it
Sublime Jack Byrne free-kick a highlight as leaders Rovers go five points clear
A first-half blitz saw the Hoops pick up where they left off as they were 3-1 winners over Finn Harps.

Shamrock Rovers 3

Finn Harps 1

SSE AIRTRICITY LEAGUE Premier Division table-toppers Shamrock Rovers extended their lead at the summit to five points after a 3-1 victory over Finn Harps at Tallaght Stadium.

jack-byrne-celebrates-scoring-the-first-goal Ryan Byrne / INPHO Jack Byrne celebrates scoring his side's first goal. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

The Hoops picked up where they left off before the Covid-19 enforced shutdown and made it six wins from six this evening in the second Premier Division game of the day.

While Waterford edged past Shelbourne earlier, Dundalk were held to a 1-1 draw by St Pat’s last night — and Rovers took full advantage of the opportunity to stretch their lead at the top.

In perfect conditions in Tallaght, Ireland international Jack Byrne set the tone just seven minutes in with a superb free-kick.

There had been a shadow of doubt over whether he would start or not due to a niggle, but the Dubliner was in fine form throughout as he controlled proceedings.

After Ronan Finn won a free in a dangerous area 25 yards out early on, Byrne got his name on the scoresheet, bending a stunning effort over the wall and into the top left-hand corner.

From there, things went from bad to worse for Harps — who had four points on the board from their opening four matches before kick-off.

16 minutes in, Dylan Watts doubled the hosts’ lead with a powerful finish after some excellent work from Byrne and with 36 minutes on the clock, the latter created another and Rovers banged in a third. 

Aaron McEneff was on target from 25 yards, and again, the finish was just sublime.

While it looked like the hosts were going to hammer their opponents at this point, Harps pulled one back shortly before half-time through Karl O’Sullivan. His well-taken volley off the back of a long throw-in gave Ollie Horgan’s men a glimmer of hope and made it 3-1 by the break.

neil-farrugia-and-leo-donnellan Ryan Byrne / INPHO Rovers' Neil Farrugia and Leo Donnellan of Finn Harps Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

To their credit, the Donegal side battled bravely in the second half and while Rovers went in search of a fourth, it never came.

Ireland international Graham Burke was sprung from the bench in the 67th minute, and that came as a welcome sight for Hoops fans after today’s news that he will extend his stay at the club.

While Byrne made way to facilitate the change, Rovers duly saw out the game and took all three points on offer in the capital. Stephen Bradley’s men now face Derry City away tomorrow week, while it’s Shels up next for Finn Harps on Tuesday.

- Updated with full report at 19.00 

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