Teenager Sean Heaney scored his first goal as Shamrock Rovers got back to winning ways beating Bray Wanderers 2-1 at Tallaght Stadium.
Following tough away assignments at champions St Patrick’s Athletic and Dundalk, which yielded just one point, Rovers gratefully accepted the gift of a penalty after just six minutes to welcome them back home.
Bray’s Adam Mitchell was deemed to have pushed Heaney to the ground in the area and Gary McCabe scored emphatically from the spot.
Rovers’ slick passing and movement was causing Bray all sorts of difficulty and but for Stephen McGuinness between the post, Wanderers might have been further behind by the interval.
First the young keeper made a terrific save to push ex-Bray winger Marty Waters’ shot onto the upright after Ronan Finn’s sublime through ball.
Waters then put Ciaran Kilduff in on goal, but McGuinness was alert to the danger and off his line promptly to make the save. McGuinness was there once again to thwart Kilduff four minutes later with a save at the striker’s feet after an inch-perfect through ball by Stephen McPhail.
The overworked Bray defence was fortunate not to concede a second penalty after 41 minutes when Jason McGuinness appeared to have been hauled down as he went to meet McPhail’s free kick.
A minute later, Bray defender Niall Cooney saved the blushes of McGuinness, heading away McCabe’s chip after the 19-year-old’s clearance had gone straight to the Rovers’ winger.
It remained one-way traffic into the second half with Rovers duly doubling their lead eleven minutes in when 18-year-old Heaney, on his second league appearance, was negligently marked to meet McCabe’s corner to head to the net.
Scarcely in the game, Bray were given a lifeline on 76 minutes when Simon Madden was adjudged to have impeded Ismahil Akinade as he came to meet David Cassidy’s cross. Dave Scully blasted home the resulting penalty.
But Waters and McCabe brought late saves from McGuinness either side of Cooney having a headed chance snuffed out by Barry Murphy as Rovers ran out more comfortable winners than the scoreline suggests.
Shamrock Rovers: Barry Murphy; Simon Madden, Jason McGuinness, Rob Cornwall, Sean Heaney; Shane Robinson, Stephen McPhail (Robert Bayly 63); Gary McCabe, Ronan Finn (, Marty Waters; Ciaran Kilduff (Eamon Zayed 68).
Bray Wanderers: Stephen McGuinness; Eric McGill, Niall Cooney, Adam Mitchell, Robert Maloney; Dave Scully (Shane O'Neill 85), Dean Zambra, Graham Kelly (Gary Curran 74), Adam Hanlon; David Cassidy; Ismahil Akinade (Ciaran Byrne 78).
Referee: Derek Tomney (Dublin).