Rovers deliver with second-half blitz

THREE second-half goals at Tallaght Stadium last night ensured Airtricity Premier Division holders Shamrock Rovers saw off Monaghan United, taking all three points from their first home game.

Former Rovers boss Roddy Collins looked like upsetting his old side as Willo McDonagh’s third-minute header saw the visitors lead 1-0 at the break. However, two quick-fire goals from Killian Brennan and Billy Dennehy after the restart put the champions in control and substitute Aaron Greene grabbed a third in stoppage time.

Despite Gary Twigg forcing Monaghan goalkeeper Chris Bennion into a save in the opening minute with a low snapshot, the visitors went one better with their first attack. Darragh Reynor floated a free kick from 40 yards into the Rovers box on three minutes and McDonagh got ahead of his marker. The midfielder’s helping glance from six yards was enough to leave Oscar Jansson in goal stranded as the ball looped over the keeper and into the net.

Minutes later Killian Brennan’s deflected drive forced Bennion to parry into his own goalmouth, but Alan Byrne denied Gary O’Neill a tap in.

Billy Dennehy was wasteful when curling a free kick well over from the edge of the box and the visitors began to control the game and frustrate the early season excitement out of the large crowd.

The home side’s attacking quality almost finally came good before the break as Brennan’s goalbound shot was deflected wide by Byrne, and Twigg curled an effort inches off target from the edge of the area.

Rovers predictably came flying out of the traps after the break and within 11 minutes they were level as Brennan flicked home Dennehy’s corner at the near post.

Monaghan simply failed to respond as the home side grew in confidence and just after the hour mark Dennehy picked up the ball 25 yards from goal and arrowed a stunning strike into the top corner.

A bizarre first-half booking for time wasting, eventually cost Monaghan dear, as Darragh Reynor’s mistimed tackle on Stephen Rice saw him shown a second yellow and dismissal on 71 minutes.

Totally flat after the effort put into their opening-half display, and down to 10 men with all three substitute used, the visitors looked vulnerable.

Bennion denied Ronan Finn with a good save before Brennan brought the game back to life a following a 10-minute lull by cannoning a shot off the crossbar before substitute Greene stroked home a third goal in stoppage time following Gary McCabe’s through ball.

SHAMROCK ROVERS: O Jansson; K Gilbert (C Turner 66), C Powell, C Sives, K Oman, S Rice, R Finn, K Brennan (G McCabe 86), B Dennehy, G Twigg, G O’Neill (A Greene 84).

MONAGHAN UNITED: C Bennion; S Maher, D Reynor, C McMahon, A Byrne, M Isichei (C Murphy 58), W McDonagh, K Quinn, A Griffiths (J Marks 64), O Humphrey (D McGuinness HT), J Keegan.

Referee: G Kelly.

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