A Gary McCabe penalty saw Shamrock Rovers continue their impeccable start to the new league season with a 1-0 over Finn Harps in Ballybofey.
McCabe ardently drove home a 70th minute spot kick into the top corner after Rovers’ striker Danny North had been upended by Finn Harps goalkeeper Richard Brush.
The Hoops deservedly travel home with the points but they were made to work very hard for them by a spirited and well organised Finn Harps side.
Harps had lost in Dundalk last Friday evening but were looking to build upon their victory from opening weekend against Derry City.
They were full of endeavour from the beginning but they lacked a ruthless streak in front of goal.
The first real chance of the opening half hour fell to Rovers frontman Mikey Drennan. The former Aston Villa man passed up a good opportunity when he looked destined to fire the Tallaght men into a deserved lead from a Brandon Miele pass.
Rovers continued to press with Brush having to deny Miele and Drennan again in quick succession just after the half hour.
Finn Harps danger man Ryan Curran was the first member of his side to test visiting ‘keeper Barry Murphy. The striker met Adam Hanlon’s cross with his head, but Murphy sprung to the rescue by gathering at the feet of the inrushing Packie Mailey.
The sides remained deadlocked as they headed into the break with Rovers definitively having the better of the first half proceedings.
The second period began in a similar vain to the first. Rovers had the majority of the possession in midfield with McCabe and Miele was at the centre of everything that they did well.
McCabe almost broke the deadlock prior to the hour mark. He dispossessed Gareth Harkin in midfield, but his audacious 35-yard chipped effort was gathered by the retreating Brush as Rovers willed the break through.
The visitors were fortunate to keep 11 men on the pitch mid-way through the second half when Simon Madden pushed Harps winger Dave Scully to the ground.
Already on a yellow card, the home faithful pleaded for Madden’s dismissal but referee Neil Doyle failed to brandish the second yellow card and instead gave the former Derry and Dundalk man a stern warning.
Following a concerted period of possession and pressure Rovers finally broke the deadlock through McCabe’s second spot-kick conversion in four days.
Prior to that it looked as if a stubborn Finn Harps outfit would hold Rovers scoreless for the first league game this season. The home side tried in earnest to get back into the game.
Their best claim for a share of the spoils was during the six additional minutes when Rovers defender Maxime Blanchard clashed with Michael Funston inside the area, but Doyle waved away the claims as Pat Fenlon’s men held on for the three points at the expense of the home side.
Finn Harps: Richard Brush; Damien McNulty, Packie Mailey, Keith Cowan, Ethan Boyle (Liam Flatley 83); Adam Hanlon, Raymond Foy (Kevin McHugh 72), Gareth Harkin, Dave Scully; Tony McNamee (Michael Funston 80); Ryan Curran.
Subs not used: Ciaran Gallagher (gk), Matthew Crossan, Ryan McConnell, Thomas McMonagle.
Booked: Raymon Foy (4), David Scully (47).
Shamrock Rovers: Barry Murphy; Simon Madden, Maxime Blancard, David O’Connor, Gavin Brennan; Michael Drennan, Gary McCabe, Killian Brennan (Pat Cregg 67), Brandon Miele; Gary Shaw, Danny North (Gareth McCaffrey 90+2).
Subs not used: Craig Hyland (gk), David Webster, Rob Cornwall, Trevor Clarke, Richie Purdy.
Booked: Simon Madden (40).
Referee: Neil Doyle.
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Brandon Miele (Shamrock Rovers).