Two goals from Danny Mandroiu and a header from Sean Hoare saw Shamrock Rovers fight back and beat Waterford 3-1 at the RSC, on a night marred by crowd trouble.
After John Martin opened the scoring inside fifteen minutes, fireworks exploded from the away end which led to referee Rob Hennessy bringing both teams off the pitch. A further incident at the start of the second half led to the officials threatening to call off the game.
The game settled after that and the champions lived up to their title win with three late goals.
Despite the need for a late rescue mission, Rovers started the game with some neat passing play which poked Graham Burke into space just outside the penalty area. Luckily for Waterford, his shot was meek and the ball trickled wide.
Waterford responded with a miss-hit shot from Martin, but he made amends seconds later after a mix-up at the back from Rovers left him facing an open goal. This was the end of a sequence which began with a cross from Jack Stafford and a mistimed header from Lee Grace. The ball fell to Martin, who saw that Leon Pohls was off his line, and he slotted in.
After Rovers kicked-off to restart the game, loud bangs were heard from the away end and fireworks exploded over the pitch. In the confusion that followed, referee Rob Hennessy brought both teams together and they walked off the pitch.
The game resumed 15 minutes later and Rovers dominated possession, which lead to a number of chances for the Hoops.
Burke and Danny Mandroiu did well on two occasions to get into space, and their attempts on goal were blocked by Niall O'Keeffe. The best opening from this period came from a free kick from Dylan Watts, which was headed away by Eddie Nolan. The ball was put back in and Neil Farrugia managed to get a head to it, which forced an excellent save from Brian Murphy.
The second half began with a warning from the officials, who threatened to abandon the game if there was any more anti-social behaviour inside the ground.
The players themselves seemed unfazed by these incidents, especially Rovers who picked up where they left off.
Their attack began with a cross from Mandroiu which floated towards the top corner of goal and needed a hand from Brian Murphy to save. A free-kick was given to the Hoops following this, and Burke shot it straight into the hands of the Waterford goalkeeper.
For all of Rovers’ passing play, they needed two set-pieces to put the ball into the back of the net.
Their equalizer was the result of a corner from Dylan Watts, which was turned in by Mandroiu. Five minutes later a free-kick from the midfielder found Sean Hoare and he headed in.
Their third came following an excellent run from Mandroiu, which ended with the ball sliding past Brian Murphy and in.
Waterford FC: Brian Murphy; Cameron Evans, Shane Griffin (Darragh Power 76), Anthony Wordsworth, John Martin, Niall O’Keeffe, Jack Stafford, Greg Halford, Isaac Tshipamba (Junior Quitirna 56), Phoenix Patterson, Eddie Nolan.
Shamrock Rovers: Leon Pohls; Sean Gannon, Sean Hoare, Roberto Lopes, Lee Grace (Max Murphy 60), Dylan Watts, Aaron Greene, Graham Burke (Zayd Abada 82), Danny Mandroiu, Gary O’Neil, Neil Farrugia (Kieran Cruise 89).
Referee: Rob Hennessy.