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Champions Shamrock Rovers dent Finn Harps' survival hopes in Ballybofey

Max Murphy sealed the away victory in his first-team debut for the Hoops.

Finn Harps’ Gareth Harkin with Dylan Watts of Shamrock Rovers.
Finn Harps’ Gareth Harkin with Dylan Watts of Shamrock Rovers.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Finn Harps 0

Shamrock Rovers 2

Alan Foley at Finn Park

LEAGUE CHAMPIONS SHAMROCK Rovers dented Finn Harps’ survival hopes with a battling away win in Ballybofey tonight.

On a quagmire, Rovers showed their capabilities to overcome their game hosts with Joey O’Brien and debutant Max Murphy the scorers.

Back-to-back victories over Bohemians and St Patrick’s Athletic and a six-match unbeaten run have given Ollie Horgan’s team impetus going into their penultimate league fixture. 

They’re very much in their chase to steer clear of First Division challengers Longford Town and Galway United and the play-off for the last remaining spot in the Premier Division in 2021. Horgan’s team will need to defeat Waterford this night week and see if assistance might come from elsewhere.

Rovers will have a major say in the dogfight seeing as their remaining with St Patrick’s Athletic and Shelbourne to play, as well as the situation with the Derry City fixture to be resolved.

The only chance of the first half-hour came the way of Sean Kavanagh, who drove through a packed penalty area after a half-cleared corner and drew a smart save down low from Mark Anthony McGinley.

Amid a spate of long Tony McNamee long throw-ins, Aaron Greene was freed by Dylan Watts and McGinley scampered from his line to block with his feet. Sam Todd managed to avert the danger as Greene tried to manufacture something from the rebound. 

The deadlock was broken on 33 minutes when O’Brien poked home one of the most untidy goals you’ll see. 

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aaron-greene-celebrates-scoring-their-second-goal Celebrating Max Murphy's goal. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

From a Dylan Watts corner, players from both teams took a bite before Dean Williams improvised to hook the ball off the crossbar and O’Brien gobbled up the rebound from inches out.

One up at the break, Rovers almost made it two at the start of the second half. Greene broke down the right and squaring in a flash, Kavanagh went in only for McGinley to make a brave save. 

Murphy made it a debut to remember with a second goal for the away team on 68 minutes, cutting in and hitting a daisycutter from angle of the penalty area and his shot sneaked into the bottom corner.

Finn Harps: Mark Anthony McGinley; Leo Donnellan (Mark Coyle 54), Kosovar Sadiki, Stephen Folan (Raffaele Cretaro 73); Dave Webster, Tony McNamee, Gareth Harkin, Barry McNamee (Adrian Delap 82), Sam Todd; Ryan Connolly (Alexander Kogler 73); Adam Foley. 

Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Joey O’Brien (Roberto Lopes 74), Lee Grace, Liam Scales; Rhys Marshall, Ronan Finn (Darragh Nugent 74), Aaron McEneff, Sean Kavanagh (Max Murphy 64); Dylan Watts (Brandon Kavanagh 74), Aaron Greene (Thomas Oluwa 69), Dean Williams.

Referee: Rob Hennessy.

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Alan Foley  / Reports from Finn Park

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