Killian Cantwell of Finn Harps wins this header on Friday night. Photo: Thomas Gallagher
Finn Harps fell to a first defeat in four games when they lost out to Shamrock Rovers at Finn Park on Friday night.
Finn Harps . . . 0
Shamrock Rovers . . . 1
In an even contest, Rovers earned the points thanks to a sublime Michael O’Connor header just before half time.
The visitors might have been better equipped in terms of quality, but Harps once again, more than matched their opponents over the 90 minutes and will be disappointed not to have taken a point.
They enjoyed some good periods of possession and were lively and industrious on the ball. Perhaps one of the downsides was their failure to create any decent openings, despite getting into some very good attacking positions in the second half.
Both teams were hit heavy with suspensions. Between them both, these sides were without eight key players for this game.
It meant a reshuffling of the pack in both camps and for Harps, they lost several options on their right side with Ethan Boyle, Caolan McAleer and Damien McNulty all missing.
Eddie Dsane came into the starting eleven and was deployed on the right side of midfield while Pascal Millien was included among the substitutes after finally receiving clearance to play.
Rovers started well and Simon Madden drifted up from right back to meet a Ryan Connolly cross but Madden’s shot screwed over.
Packie Mailey had an early opportunity for the home side when following a Ciaran Coll delivery, his header was comfortably saved by Rovers keeper Tomer Chencinsk.
After taking a while to get into the game, Harps soon began to impose themselves with Paddy McCourt, Gareth Harkin and Jonny Bonner all creative when in possession.
Sean Houston almost finished off a lovely three-man move, running onto an Eddie Dsane flick only to shoot over.
Rovers too, were impressive in spells and just before half time, Brandon Miele was inches away from opening the scoring when his deflected effort went agonisingly wide. But following the resulting corner, Madden produced an inviting cross from the right which was flicked home by Michael O’Connor.
Coming so late as it did in the half, it was a horrible time for Harps to concede. They changed things around a little for the second half, pushing Ciaran O’Connor into a more attacking role alongside Dsane.
But if anything, it was the visitors who were on top after the turnaround and Danny Devine, up from the back for a free-kick, headed over from a good position.
At the other end, O’Connor had a shot blocked by a defender and once Rovers gained possession, they quickly broke up the other end in the form of Brandon Miele who was denied a shot on goal by the brave intervention of Ciaran Gallagher.
Pascal Millien came on for his long-awaited debut and BJ Banda was also introduced from the bench as Harps chased an equaliser.
But Rovers saw the game out to claim a valuable three points.
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher, Ciaran Coll, Gareth Harkin, Packie Mailey, Killian Cantwell, Jonny Bonner, Paddy McCourt (BJ Banda 82), Barry Molloy, Ciaran O’Connor (Pascal Millien 74), Sean Houston, Eddie Dsane.
Shamrock Rovers: Tomer Chencinski, Simon Madden, Luke Byrne, Roberto Lopes, Danny Devine, Ryan Connolly, Ronan Finn, Darren Meenan, Michael O’Connor (Sam Bone 76), Gary Shaw, Brandon Miele.
Referee: Robert Harvey.