(Shamrock Rovers win 4-3 on aggregate)

Jack Byrne fittingly capped a virtuoso display with a superbly taken goal to lead Shamrock Rovers through to the second round of the UEFA Europa League on a thrilling night at Tallaght Stadium.

Stephen Bradley's side had to do it the hard way as they came from behind in a cracking second half of action before a raucous crowd of 5,135 in Dublin 24.

After a tight 2-2 draw in Bergen last week, Daouda Bamba gave Brann the lead on the night early in the second half to put them ahead in the tie.

But Hoops hit back in the final 15 minutes through Byrne with Gary O’Neill sealing the victory.

It was a good night for Stephen Bradley

The win means an additional €260,000 in prize money (half a million in total) as Rovers now meet Cypriot side Apollon Limassol in the second round with the first leg at home next week.

Though they began somewhat cagily, the Norwegians created the first real chance of the night 16 minutes in.

Petter Strand’s surging run was stopped by a block tackle from Greg Bolger. But the ball ran for Fredrik Haugen whose drive from just outside the box blazed over the crossbar.

Ronan Finn, partnering Graham Cummins in attack, roused the Rovers crowd three minutes later, his tenacity leading to his nicking the ball off Brann’s ex-Costa Rican international defender Bismar Acosta.

The Hoops skipper’s right foot shot then brought a fine save from Hakon Opdal who pushed it out for a corner.

From Byrne’s delivery, Rovers had appeals for a penalty dismissed despite Dylan Watts’ shot appearing to strike a defender’s arm.

In a tight game, Brann responded, with Faroese international Gill Rolantsson getting forward on the right to drill a low shot wide of Alan Mannus’ right-hand post.

Beginning the second half on the front foot, Rovers produced a real chance inside 30 seconds.

Cummins threaded a ball through for the run of Ethan Boyle whose low strike arrowed wide of the far post.

But Brann then struck for the lead with 56 minutes gone.

Karamoko Daouda Bamba put Brann ahead in the tie

Veton Berisha flicked on Opdal's kick out to put half-time substitute Bamba in between Roberto Lopes and Lee Grace.

And the 24-year-old Ivorian striker skipped round the out-rushing Mannus before calmly shooting to the empty net to put Brann in the driving seat.

Rovers brought on Aaron McEneff to increase their attacking options from midfield as they chased the game.

It was Byrne, though, who remained the home side’s chief orchestrator, his diagonal ball for Cummins deserving better than the striker’s tame header straight to Opdal.

But Rovers’s star man worked the oracle to equalise on the night and restore their lead in the tie on 76 minutes.


Substitute Dan Carr harried the Brann defence in the air with the ball dropping for Finn who cleverly slipped it through for Byrne.

Having taken a perfect touch to control the ball, Byrne showed ice cool composure to shoot past Opdal for a delightful finish.

Rovers then sealed their victory on 87 minutes.

The hard-running Carr again was involved to win possession. He fed Byrne who moved the ball on to substitute O’Neill whose shot deflected to the net for his first goal for the club.

Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Joey O’Brien, Roberto Lopes, Lee Grace; Ethan Boyle, Dylan Watts (Aaron McEneff 63), Jack Byrne, Greg Bolger, Sean Kavanagh; Ronan Finn (Gary O’Neill 80), Graham Cummins (Dan Carr 75). 

SK Brann: Hakon Opdal; Taijo Teniste (Azar Karadas 84), Bismar Acosta Evans, Christian Eggen Rismark, Ruben Kristiansen; Fredik Haugen, Amer Ordagic, Petter Strand (Ruben Jenssen 84); Gilli Rolantsson, Veton Berisha, Gilbert Koomson (Daouda Bamba at half-time).

Referee: Kári Joannesarson a Høvdanum (Faroe Islands)

Attendance: 5,135