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The Derry Pele off the mark for Harps but superb Madden goal proves difference for Rovers

Paddy McCourt found the net but the Hoops got the better of Finn Harps.

Image: Tom Beary/INPHO

Shamrock Rovers 3

Finn Harps 2

A STUNNING INJURY-TIME volley from Simon Madden got Shamrock Rovers’ season back on track following successive defeats and put the fire out on a late comeback from Finn Harps which featured a first goal for winger Paddy McCourt.

Stephen Bradley’s side were 12 points adrift of league leaders Cork City heading into this game, with the manager stressing the need to take all three points after last Saturday’s disappointing Dublin derby defeat away to St. Patrick’s Athletic.

His side played with a renewed sense of confidence inside the opening half and stole the lead just two minutes in when midfielder David McAllister crashed an outstanding strike to the net, off the underside of goalkeeper Ciaran Gallagher’s goal.

Ronan Finn Rovers' skipper Ronan Finn also got on the score-sheet. Source: Ryan Byrne; ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Captain Ronan Finn doubled the lead just 12 minutes later. This time it was from 25 yards, with the 29-year-old driving a low strike into the bottom right-hand corner for his first goal as Rovers’ skipper.

Harps sat two places above their opponents before kick-off but looked unhinged and lifeless following their early setbacks. Matters were made worse for manager Ollie Horgan when striker Ciaran O’Connor limped off after just 23 minutes, replaced by Barry Molloy.

The Ballybofey club found chances hard to come by before the break as they remained pinned inside their own half. Their best opportunity came through Jonny Bonner but his point-blank strike from inside the penalty area was straight at goalkeeper Tomer Chencinski.

The dancing feet and stylish trickery of Paddy McCourt made for some fine individual moments of brilliance from the former Celtic winger. And his side built on a promising opening half when Caolan McAleer slipped an expert finish under goalkeeper Chencinski for 2-1.

Paddy McCourt McCourt grabbed his first goal for Harps with a well-taken free-kick. Source: Morgan Treacy; ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy/INPHO

McCourt ensured a grand-slam finish when he floated an expert free-kick inside the left-hand corner of the Rovers net to draw the scores level with 13 minutes remaining and complete a momentous comeback for the Ballybofey club.

However the drama wasn’t finished as it proved to be Rovers’ night.

Defender Simon Madden floated a lofted volley dipping ecstatically into the top corner of goalkeeper Gallagher’s goal in injury time to break Ballybofey hearts and earn Rovers a third win of the season.

Shamrock Rovers: Tomer Chencinski, Simon Madden, David Webster, Daniel Devine, David McAllister (Sean Boyd 80), Trevor Clarke, Ronan Finn, Roberto Lopes, Graham Burke, Sam Bone (Brandon Miele 67), Sean Dillon (Michael O’Connor 67).

Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher, Killian Cantwell, Caolan McAleer, Sean Houston, Ciaran Coll, Danny Morrissey (Eddie Dsane 68), Ethan Boyle, Gareth Harkin, Johnny Bonner, Ciaran O’Connor (Barry Molloy 23), Paddy McCourt

Referee: Sean Grant

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Aaron Gallagher

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