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Ryan Byrne/INPHO Rovers’ Rory Gaffney celebrates scoring the second goal of the game with his teammates.
Rovers extend lead at top of the table with 5-star display against Finn Harps
Jack Byrne pulled the strings in a 5-1 win for the Hoops.

Shamrock Rovers 5

Finn Harps 1

Patrick O’Connor reports from Tallaght Stadium

SHAMROCK ROVERS PICKED up one of their easiest three points of the season when they completely overwhelmed Finn Harps by 5-1 at a windy Tallaght Stadium on Sunday.

The emphatic win allows Rovers to consolidate their lead at the top of the Premier Division table, where they now have a four-point advantage over Derry City, with one game still in hand.

An uncharacteristically lethargic Harps made it all too easy for the hosts and they are now firmly rooted at the bottom of the table, one point behind UCD.

The first half of this game was played at a pedestrian pace with Harps packing their defence, leaving Eric McWoods as a lone striker up front, and Rovers dominating possession and stroking the ball around at will.

Rovers almost opened the scoring in the fifth minute when man of the match Jack Byrne put Neil Farrugia through but the winger’s shot was weak. Moments later he made up for the miss when he slotted home after Rovers had split open the Harps defence.

Rovers had a great chance to extend their lead in the 20th minute when a long ball from Daniel Cleary found Byrne in space, but his cross was slightly behind Aaron Greene, who was unable to get a clean shot on target.

jack-byrne-and-ryan-connolly Ryan Byrne / INPHO Rovers’ Jack Byrne and Ryan Connolly of Finn Harps. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Rovers did extend their lead in the 35th minute when Rory Gaffney slotted home a penalty after Greene was needlessly fouled in the box by two Harps defenders when there was no real threat on their goal.

The game was as good as over in the 40th minute when Rovers strolled through the Harps’ defence, Farrugia played in Gaffney who in turn slid the ball into the path of Andy Lyons, who blasted the ball to the net with his weaker right foot.

The rout continued three minutes later when a slide rule pass from Byrne split the Harps defence once again and Farrugia had the confidence to nutmeg Jamie McKeown as he slid the ball into the net.

Harps gave themselves a glimmer of hope in the 57th minute when a hesitant Rovers back line allowed McWoods plenty of time to pick out the unmarked Jamie Siah and he blasted to the net past Alan Mannus.

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Their faint hopes were banished quickly in the 63rd minute when Gaffney pulled away to the left wing and slid the ball across the box where Byrne had the simple task of tapping the ball into an empty net for goal number five.

Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Sean Gannon, Daniel Cleary, Lee Grace, Neil Farrugia (Simon Power 65), Andy Lyons (Viktor Serdeniuk 46), Gary O’Neill (Gideon Tetteh 65), Sean Kavanagh, Jack Byrne, Rory Gaffney (Graham Burke 65), Aaron Greene (Aidomo Emakhu)

Finn Harps: James McKeown; Rob Slevin (Jose Carrillo 86), Gary Boylan (Harry Nicolson 72) Ethan Boyle, Ryan Rainey, Elie N’ Zeyi, Ryan Connolly, Barry McNamee (Rob Jones 65) Eric McWoods (Adam McCaffrey 86) Filip Mihajlovic, Dylan Duncan (Jamie Siah 46)

Referee: Derek Tomney 

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Patrick O'Connor
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