Shamrock Rovers opened their SSE Airtricity League campaign with a well-earned win over old rivals Waterford at the Regional Sports Centre as Ethan Boyle netted a winner with the last kick of the game.

The two sides finished third and fourth in the table last year with the Hoops getting the better of Alan Reynolds' side and they came out on top again on the first night of the new season after goals from the full back and Aaron Greene cancelled out Kevin Lynch's opener.

Forward Aaron Drinan was named in the home side's eleven after he rejoined the club on loan from Ipswich Town midweek, with former international Damien Delaney captaining the Blues, while winter signings Jack Byrne and Aaron McEneff both started in midfield for Stephen Bradley's side.

Despite the lively atmosphere  it was the away side who took control of the game from referee Graham Kelly's first whistle.

Former Manchester City youth Byrne menacingly carried the ball towards the Waterford box in the opening minute before the ball broke to Dylan Watts whose curling shot was saved by Matthew Connor in the Blues goal.

The netminder was kept busy in the opening stages as he palmed away a free from Sean Kavanagh and a Ronan Finn effort after Delaney was dispossessed in his own half.

Kevin Lynch bends the ball past Alan Mannus of Shamrock Rovers to score

Despite Rovers bright start it was the home side who nipped into the lead midway through the half.

Shane Duggan was felled having been first to a breaking ball in the middle third after Akinade won an aerial dual and debutant Kevin Lynch's gorgeously arcing free kick beat the outstretched Alan Mannus for the opener, albeit against the run of play.

While the scoreline had changed the pattern of the game hadn't and the Hoops were again the more threatening side. Lee Grace glanced a Byrne free-kick wide and Connor saved shots from Finn and Watts before a close range Dan Carr effort was blocked on the line by Waterford's goalscorer.

Akinade cracked the post from a narrow angle before the first half concluded but the visitors were again on top after the break earning a much deserved equaliser. Minutes after Carr had set up Finn to pass narrowly wide, he found Greene from close range with the front man steering the ball past Connor.

Waterford's Ishmail Akinade in action against Dylan Watts of Shamrock Rovers 

The chances continued to come but were beginning to be shared more evenly between the sides. Watts narrowly fired a low shot wide from outside the box while Roberto Lopes was lucky his sliced clearance drifted wide after sailing over the onrushing Mannus.

With 15 minutes left Akinade almost acrobatically volleyed his side ahead after excellent work down the right wing from Rory Feely but Mannus matched his effort and the visitors capitalised deep into injury time when Boyle directed Jack Byrne's corner right into the bottom corner, sparking delirious scenes in the away section.

Waterford FC: Matthew Connor; Rory Feely, Kenny Browne, Damien Delaney, Kevin Lynch; Shane Duggan, Bastien Hery, John Martin (Kouogun, 76); Zach Elbouzedi; Aaron Drinan, Ismahil Akinade.

Substitutes: Hugo Keto (GK), Maxim Kouogun, Scott Twine, Dean O'Halloran, Dean Walsh, Cory Galvin, Jack Larkin.

Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus, Ethan Boyle, Roberto Lopes, Lee Grace, Sean Kavanagh (Clarke, 73); Aaron McEneff, Dylan Watts (Bolger, 66); Jack Byrne, Ronan Finn, Dan Carr; Aaron Greene (Vojic, 73).

Substitutes: Leon Pohls (GK), Greg Bolger, Joel Coustrain, Trevor Clarke, Brandon Kavanagh, Joey O'Brien, Orhan Vojic.

Referee: Graham Kelly

Attendance: 4,152