Shamrock Rovers equaled the all-time League of Ireland unbeaten run when they hit the 30-mark with a somewhat controversial victory at luckless Finn Harps.

Sixteen minutes from time, there was a break in play and before things resumed, Harps manager Ollie Horgan queried as to why referee Rob Hennessy why play was restarting with a Rovers free, having signalled the opposite beforehand.

And, typically, from the delivery from Dylan Watts from in front of the dugouts, Mark Anthony McGinley in the Harps goal spilled and Rory Gaffney prodded into the empty net.

It was a tough pill to swallow for Harps, who then saw Horgan sent off for protestations for another Rovers free. And sure enough, another deep free from Watts again was headed home by Sean Hoare in the 81st minute.

Rovers were the last team to go 30 unbeaten in the 1920s.


Last November, in the FAI Cup quarter-final, referee Hennessy awarded Rovers three second half penalties as they came from two down to pinch a 3-2 victory.

This evening, in only the third minute, Hennessy ran purposefully towards the Harps penalty area after Graham Burke went down under a challenge from Johnny Dunleavey. However, it was to caution the visiting striker for diving.

Harps, wearing their purple third kit representing the national colour of Down Syndrome Ireland, were flat as a pancake in their 2-0 loss at St Patrick's Athletic's hands a week ago.

With the champions in town, Horgan’s team were back to their competitive selves, giving as much as they got in a first half where neither side got a shot on target - but it was not as consequence of a lack of effort.

Rovers trundled into the Twin Towns with four wins on the bounce expected to add to that run against their hosts, who had picked up just the one point from the last nine available.

While Harps were rigid and disciplined in their shape, it matched their guests who were more fluid with players rotating. The home side almost produced the breakthrough in the 71st minute when Karl O’Sullivan fizzed the ball across the brows of Alan Mannus’s goal.

The breakthrough would come at the other end.

Finn Harps: Mark Anthony McGinley; Ethan Boyle, Dave Webster, Kosovar Sadiki, Johnny Dunleavy; Mark Coyle (Niall McGinley 86), Will Seymore; Karl O’Sullivan (Ryan Shanley 85), Stephen Doherty (Babatunde Owolabi 64); Barry McNamee (Mark Timlin 85), Adam Foley (Mark Russell 64).

Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Joey O’Brien ((Sean Gannon 74), Sean Hoare, Lee Grace; Ronan Finn, Dylan Watts, Gary O’Neill, Liam Scales; Graham Burke (Aaron Greene 64), Rory Gaffney (Dean Williams 85), Danny Mandroiu (Darragh Nugent 85).

Referee: Rob Hennessy.