Ollie Horgan - sent to the stands at Tallaght Stadium
Depleted Finn Harps suffered their heaviest defeat of the new Premier Division season when they were well beaten by high-flying Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium on Monday night.
Shamrock Rovers . . . 3
Finn Harps . . . . 0
The Hoops eased to a 3-0 win with all the goals coming in an incident-packed first half during which the home side missed a penalty and Harps lost Gareth Harkin to what looked like a serious injury.
Thankfully for Harps, Rovers were unable to add to their total in the second half. But it was a difficult night for the Donegal club who also saw manager Ollie Horgan red-carded in the second half.
Injuries and the unavailability of Mark Coyle (exams) and the on-loan Sean Boyd who couldn’t play against his parent club, meant Horgan had to reshuffle his side from Friday night’s game against Sligo Rovers.
In came Caolan McAleer, Niall McGinley and Mikey Place, all of whom were second half substitutes on Friday night. And pre-season signing Harry Ascroft made his Harps debut in midfield.
Rovers too made several changes from the team that drew 0-0 with Dundalk at the weekend. Sam Bone, Sean Kavanagh, Dylan Watts, Dan Carr, and Aaron Greene all came in from the start.
The early stages were pretty even and McAleer had the game’s first opportunity, forcing a tidy save from former Northern Ireland goalkeeper Alan Mannus.
At the other end Peter Burke saved from Dan Carr and then Aaron McEneff.
However, he was beaten on 11 minutes when Rovers worked a short corner and McEneff’s effort squirmed under Burke before the ball was finished to the net by Roberto Lopez.
Harps, to their credit, continued to play some decent football and Daniel O’Reilly, who scored against Sligo on Friday, shot over from distance.
But Rovers were the better side and they wasted a great chance to double their lead on 26 when Dylan Watts blasted over from the penalty spot after a foul by Gareth Harkin on McEneff.
After McEneff flashed a shot just wide, Watts made up for his earlier penalty miss when he made it 2-0 on 38, taking control after being set up by Dan Carr and finishing well.
Harps then suffered a further blow on the stroke of half-time when Gareth Harkin was forced off after receiving lengthy treatment for an injury. Tony McNamee came on in his place but during the extra minutes added on at the end of the half, Harps conceded a third when Sean Kavanagh’s through ball released Aaron Greene on goal and he found the net with a well taken finish.
Three goals behind going into the second half, Harps would have been fearing the worst and while Niall McGinley had a couple of efforts on goal, Rovers were always dangerous coming forward. Just after the hour, Greene slammed an effort off the underside of the crossbar.
Ollie Horgan was then sent to the stands by referee Ben Connolly as the night went from bad to worse for the visitors. Horgan will now face a touchline ban just a day after his assistant Paul Hegarty was banned for three matches.
Former Droghed United player Colm Deasy made his Harps debut, coming on as a 70th minute replacement for Ascroft.
There were to be no further goals as Rovers eased off the pedal a little towards the finish, although Burke was still kept busy making saves from Kavanagh and Watts late on.
Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus, Roberto Lopes, Sam Bone (Joey O’Brien 66), Lee Grace, Aaron McEneff (Brandon Kavanagh 46), Jack Byrne (Odhran Vojic 65), Greg Bolger Dylan Watts, Sean Kavanagh, Aaron Greene, Dan Carr.
Finn Harps: Peter Burke, John Kavanagh, Daniel O'Reilly, Jacob Borg, Keith Cowan, Caolan McAleer, Niall McGinley, Gareth Harkin (Tony McNamee 45), Harry Ascroft (Colm Deasy 70), Mikey Place, Nathan Boyle (Mark Russell 58).
Referee: Ben Connolly.