Shamrock Rovers remain undefeated in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division after beating Finn Harps in Ballybofey.

Joey O'Brien was alert to open the scoring for the Tallaght team and although Harps certainly pressed hard on a torrid pitch, Rovers were content to bog out the victory.

Max Murphy, on his first appearance for the first team, added a second goal to seal the win. 

Sean Kavanagh, returning to the starting XI, tested McGinley as early as the second minute with a shot through the crowd as Harps failed to clear an early corner.

The Donegal side went into the contest in a decent run of form of late, putting themselves in with a chance of an eighth-placed finish and thus avoiding the play-off spot with whoever emerges from the First Division series, Galway United or Longford Town.

Harps welcome Waterford FC next Sunday and need a win at least and a favour from Rovers, who travel to Tolka Park to face Shelbourne.

Harps gave their guests a guard of honour onto the field but then the pleasantries ended.

Playing with high energy and not afraid to go long, Harps began to take control of the tempo of the contest and forced a succession of corners and the bombardment continued from throw-ins.

Joey O'Brien opens the scoring

Alan Mannus in the Rovers goal wasn’t overly tested although he would have been relieved to see a Tony McNamee effort dragged wide on 28 minutes.

That said, from a breakaway Dylan Watts set Aaron Greene away and McGinley in the Harps goal came to meet him and saved with his legs.

The deadlock was broken on 33 minutes when O’Brien poked home one of the untidiest goals you’ll see.

Stephen Bradley would have been delighted to see his central defender score from close range after a Dean Williams effort had squirmed up into the air and off the crossbar in a crowded penalty area with Harps scrambling in vain to clear.

Despite being under pressure for spells, Rovers did carry threat frequently, with their class telling in the difficult conditions. Right at the start of the second half, Greene broke down the left and squaring in a flash, Kavanagh went in only for McGinley to make a brave save.

McGinley was beaten on 68 minutes when Murphy, only on the pitch four minutes, took on a Greene pass. From the angle of the penalty area and his shot, not the firmest but firm enough, sneaked into the bottom corner.

Rovers will be back in Ballybofey later this month to contest an FAI Cup quarter-final and with the future in mind, Bradley also gave Darragh Nugent a debut.

Finn Harps: Mark Anthony McGinley; Leo Donnellan (Mark Coyle 54), Kosovar Sadiki, Stephen Folan (Raffaele Cretaro 73); Dave Webster, Tony McNamee, Gareth Harkin, Barry McNamee (Adrian Delap 82), Sam Todd; Ryan Connolly (Alexander Kogler 73); Adam Foley.

Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Joey O’Brien (Roberto Lopes 74), Lee Grace, Liam Scales; Rhys Marshall, Ronan Finn (Darragh Nugent 74), Aaron McEneff, Sean Kavanagh (Max Murphy 64); Dylan Watts (Brandon Kavanagh 74), Aaron Greene (Thomas Oluwa 69), Dean Williams.

Referee: Rob Hennessy.