Niall Logue of Finn Harps clears from defence as Aaron Greene of Shamrock Rovers watches on PICTURE: STEPHEN DOHERTY
Finn Harps’ recent good run of results came to a disappointing end on Monday night when they were beaten by a clinical Shamrock Rovers at Finn Park.
Finn Harps . . .0
Shamrock Rovers . . . 3
The joint league leaders were impressive winners on a night when Harps played well at times. However, the Donegal side couldn’t match Rovers’ quality, particularly in attack as Rovers made it three wins over Harps in three league games this season.
The result, coupled with Dundalk’s win over Bohs means it’s as you were at the top of the table with Rovers and Dundalk level on points.
At the other end, UCD and Harps remain level on points as well - the Students losing at home to Cork City on Monday night.
Once again, Ollie Horgan rang the changes to his side after Friday night’s game against Waterford FC. On-loan Sean Boyd couldn’t play against his parent club while there was no John Kavanagh. Tony McNamee and Liam Walsh were left on the bench as Caolan McAleer, Mark Coyle and Sam Todd returned from suspension.
McAleer was involved in the action early on when he fired over from a good position after excellent work from Mark Russell.
But Rovers quickly got ahead when on six minutes they punished a mistake by Harps keeper Peter Burke with the game’s opening goal. Dan Carr delivered a wicked inswinging cross from the left which was spilled by Burke and Aaron Greene was able to tee up the loose ball for Ronan Finn to turn home.
Minutes later, Greene had a good chance to score a second but he shot wide of the target after working a decent opening.
Both teams were evenly matched for much of the first half and while Harps didn’t really create too many chances, they played some decent football and caused the Rovers defence plenty of trouble.
Mikey Place, so impressive against Waterford on Friday night, again carried a threat while Mark Coyle in midfield was the home side’s most creative player in that first half.
But Shamrock Rovers, having already beaten Harps twice in the league this season, were in no mood to end that run of wins. They doubled their advantage on 34 minutes when Dylan Watts converted from the penalty spot following a foul on Greene by Burke.
Two nil behind at the break, Harps had it all to do in the second half. They brought on Tony McNamee in place of Jacob Borg at the break and the Ramelton man’s introduction gave his team a notable lift.
They fired an early warning shot at Rovers when McAleer shot into the arms of keeper Alan Manus.
But Rovers were dangerous in attack and Greene, such a lively outlet up front, would have made it 3-0 on 68 minutes only for a brilliant saved from Peter Burke.
A minute later, and Harps were almost in for a goal but Nathan Boyle’s effort drifted across goal and wide.
There were also appeals for a penalty when McAleer appeared to be pushed over by Lee Grace.
But Rovers made sure of the points when Aaron Greene stole in at the back post to turn home a Jack Byrne free from the left on 84 minutes.
Next up for Harps is the north west derby at Brandywell on Friday night and another derby meeting with Derry City.
Finn Harps: Peter Burke, Colm Deasy, Mark Russell, Sam Todd, Niall Logue, Daniel O’Reilly, Caolan McAleer, Jacob Borg (Tony McNamee 46), Nathan Boyle (Liam Walsh 84), Mikey Place, Mark Coyle (Keith Cowan 79).
Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus, Joey O'Brien, Roberto Lopes, Lee Grace, Trevor Clarke (Ethan Boyle 77), Dan Carr (Joel Coustrain 64 mins), Ronan Finn, Dylan Watts, Greg Bolger (Dean Dillon 83), Jack Byrne, Aaron Greene.
Referee: Robert Hennessy.