Dan Carr scored for the third time in four games to help secure a third place finish in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division table for Shamrock Rovers as the managers from both sides were sent to the stand at Tallaght Stadium.
Taking their best form of the season into their final home game of the campaign, Rovers were immediately on the front foot, forcing a save from Niall Corbet and having a goal disallowed, all inside the opening minute.
Skipper Ronan Finn and Gary Shaw set up winger Carr to strike from distance to see Corbet go full stretch to push the effort away with just 46 seconds up on referee Rob Harvey’s watch.
Seconds later, a cross from Joel Coustrain was touched into the net by Dylan Watts only for assistant referee Michelle O’Neill to raise her flag for offside.
Shaw powered a header wide from Carr’s cross on nine minutes before Rovers’ blistering start brought a deserved lead two minutes later.
The energetic Carr was again involved, whipping a low cross in from theft that was deflected into the net by Blues’ defender Garry Comerford for an own goal.
Waterford played their way into the game, winning three corners before working Alan Mannus in the Hoops goal for the first time on 21 minutes.
Visitors’ captain Paul Keegan and Bastien Hery orchestrated the opening for Dean O’Halloran whose drive was batted round a post by the Rovers keeper.
34' Dan found the ball at his feet inside the box and did really well to hit a strong shot that stunned Corbett in the Waterford goal! [2-0] pic.twitter.com/gqyZSYxokl— Shamrock Rovers F.C. 🇮🇪 (@ShamrockRovers) October 19, 2018
Minutes later Blues right-back Rory Feely got forward to crack a drive off Mannus’ left-hand post.
But Rovers survived to double their lead on 35 minutes.
Blues’ left-back Dylan Barnett was booked for a clumsy foul on Coustrain.
Further punishment promptly arrived as Watts’ free kick wasn’t cleared. Carr reacted first to the loose ball to shoot home for his 10th league goal of the season.
A bout of verbals between the respective benches 10 minutes into second half resulted in both managers, Stephen Bradley of Rovers and Waterford’s Alan Reynolds, being sent to the stand.
Back on the pitch, Ismahil Akinade got Waterford right back into the game with a headed goal from fellow half-time substitute Dessie Hutchinson's cross on 73 minutes.
But it was Rovers who finished the stronger.
Defender Joey O’Brien was unlucky to see an 82nd minute diving header from Brandon Kavanagh’s corner come back off the crossbar.
Substitute Sean Boyd then added Hoops third goal on 87 minutes, stooping to head home Finn’s cross from the right.
Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Sam Bone, Roberto Lopes, Lee Grace, Joey O’Brien; Joey Coustrain (Aaron Bolger 74), Greg Bolger, Ronan Finn, Dylan Watts, Dan Carr (Sean Boyd 79); Gary Shaw (Brandon Kavanagh 64).
Waterford: Niall Corbet; Rory Feely, Kenny Browne (Dessie Hutchinson h-t), Garry Comerford, Dylan Barnett; Paul Keegan (Noe Baba 67), Stanley Aborah; Sander Puri (Ismahil Akinade h-t), Bastien Hery, Cory Galvin; Dean O’Halloran.
Referee: Rob Harvey (Dublin).