Finn Harps 0-2 Shamrock Rovers
Shamrock Rovers kept up their push for a place in Europe with a routine 2-0 win over Finn Harps at Finn Park.
Sean Boyd netted his fourth in as many games when he gave the Hoops the lead on 54 minutes.
The points were secured ten minutes from time when Boyd turned provider to set up substitute Dean Clarke who fired past Richard Brush to hand Rovers a deserved three points.
The win sees the Hoops move to within a point of third placed Derry City, with a game in hand to come, while Harps now sit five points clear of second from bottom Wexford Youths with two fewer games played.
Following a sluggish start from both camps, it was the away side who had first sight of an opener.
The SSE Airtricity League table after wins tonight for Cork City, Bohs, Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk pic.twitter.com/8GQp9P6JxU— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) August 26, 2016
On his maiden start for the Hoops, 18-year-old full-back Shane Hanney found Trevor Clarke inside the Harps area but he could only sheepishly nod his header wide of Brush's goal just shy of the quarter hour.
Having struggled to build anything really meaningful in attack, the home side were then offered two chances to steal the lead in quick succession.
With a half hour played, Rovers' Gary McCabe conceded possession to Sean Houston, who in turn found the run of the sprightly Ruairi Keating. The latter foiled by a smart stop at the top corner of his goal from Rovers goalkeeper Craig Hyland.
Keating should have put the Ballybofey men into the lead from Tony McNamee's resulting corner.
Unmarked at the front post, the Westport native was unable to wrap his foot around the ball and instead wastefully clipped his effort wide of Hyland's post. This despite Keating's claims Hyland had got a touch on the ball.
The Dublin side were going in search of their second win over Harps this season having beaten Ollie Horgan's charges at the same venue in March.
They created plenty in front of the Harps area but Brush remained largely untested during an uneventful first half.
Hoops' Gary Shaw had a penalty plea dismissed on the stroke of half-time.
The former Longford striker claiming he was clipped by Keith Cowan at the penalty spot in his attempts to make contact with Trevor Clarke's cross from the left. Referee Rob Rogers showing little sympathy to Shaw's call.
The second half was just nine minutes old when the game burst into life as Sean Boyd handed Rovers the lead.
Full-back Simon Madden found Brandon Miele in the middle and having neatly skipped by two challenges on his 50th league appearance for the club, Miele then teed up the busy Boyd who slammed the ball past Brush to continue his rich goalscoring form.
The game suffered then from another lull as both teams reorganised. Gareth Harkin could only fire straight at Hyland on 65, while Hoops substitute Killian Brennan skied a half chance from ten yards shortly after his introduction on 75.
Fellow substitute Dean Clarke did well to show Adam Hanlon a clean pair of heels eleven minutes from time. The former Limerick man picking out Boyd who could only fire over from the edge of the area.
The Tallaght men were not to be denied a second one minute later. Boyd finding the incoming Dean Clarke in space and the striker was left with a relatively simple finish as he side-footed past Brush for his third league goal of the season.
Trevor Clarke should have put the game to bed six minutes from time when Boyd found the winger with an exquisite ball though the middle.
Clarke showed his strength as he made his way towards goal whilst holding off the challenge of Packie Mailey. The youngster however, could only drag his close range shot across the face of Brush's goal.
Finn Harps: Richard Brush; Ciaran Coll, Packie Mailey, Keith Cowan, Ethan Boyle; Tony McNamee (Kevin McHugh 83), Barry Molloy (Ryan Curran 74), Gareth Harkin, Sean Houston, Michael Funston (Adam Hanlon 74); Ruairi Keating.
Shamrock Rovers: Craig Hyland; Simon Madden, Rob Cornwall, Shane Hanney, David O'Connor; Gary McCabe (Stephen McPhail 71), Pat Cregg, Brandon Miele (Killian Brennan 75), Trevor Clarke; Sean Boyd, Gary Shaw (Dean Clarke 71).
Referee: Rob Rogers.