Shamrock Rovers broke the all-time League of Ireland record of 30 games unbeaten by cruising past struggling Waterford, though it was a frustrating day for the returning Neil Farrugia in the 3-0 win at Tallaght Stadium.

Goals from Rory Gaffney, Gary O'Neill and Danny Mandroiu eased the champions to victory and back to the top of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division table, Stephen Bradley's men dropping just four points in the first round of matches.

Heavy pre-game precipitation had the Tallaght surface, one of the best in the league, under some pressure, with the odd patch near halfway waterlogged. A strong wind was at Rovers' backs in the opening half and it was critical for the Blues that they weathered the inevitable early weight of attacks. They just about did, or at least until 13 minutes in.

Before the opener, Dylan Watts' corner was met firmly by Lee Grace but his header, which seemed certain to go in, was cleared off the line by Darragh Power; Watts got the ball back and put in another superb delivery but somehow Paul Martin prevented a certain goal with his feet, Gaffney failing to convert from point-blank range. But Gaffney made no mistake on 13 minutes.

The Tuam man reacted quickly to drive home from Mandroiu's pass from a hop-ball necessitated by it having hit referee Adriano Reale during a Rovers attack.

Already, Waterford's body language was ominous. Mandroiu, increasingly pivotal, found Greene with a crisp pass but the striker dragged his effort wide before a Gaffney piledriver with his left foot clipped the crossbar.

Waterford goalkeeper Paul Martin makes a save from Shamrock Rovers' Rory Gaffney

Greene set up Gaffney for what would surely have been a second midway through the half but Cameron Evans denied him with a despairing intervention.

The inevitable became a reality on 33 minutes. Greene was hacked down by Tunmise Sobowale, with Greene unable to continue, but before he departed O'Neill put the ball into the net from the free-kick after a Watts shot-come-cross.

To be fair to Waterford, they enjoyed a more encouraging spell as the first half neared its conclusion, without troubling Alan Mannus.

The second half began in really windy conditions though that was probably no excuse for Graham Burke, whose curler inside the box did not trouble Martin.

Waterford had half a shout for a penalty before Max Murphy coolly fed Mandroiu on 54 minutes and he coolly slotted into the corner, despite a parry from Martin. Gaffney nearly made it 4-0 on 63 minutes, a gorgeous one-two with Burke ending in a good Martin save.

Rovers have an abundance of talent on the left flank and fans will have been encouraged with the return from injury of Neil Farrugia with a quarter of a game to go long decided in terms of who would prevail.

On this evidence, Farrugia will be a major addition, but it seemed that he aggravated a long-term hamstring problem and he looked disconsolate as he walked off the park long before the final whistle - one worrying aspect for Bradley on the day.

Shamrock Rovers: Mannus; Grace, Hoare, Scales; Gannon, O'Neill, Watts (McCann 55), Mandroiu (Williams 55), Murphy (Farrugia 68); Gaffney (Nugent 68), Greene (Burke 35).

Waterford: Martin; Power, Sobowale, Evans, Mascoll (Stafford 61); Waite, O'Keeffe, O'Reilly, Masingo, Mutswunguma; Martin.