Gary McCabe spot on as Shamrock Rovers edge Finn Harps

Finn Harps 0 Shamrock Rovers 1: Shamrock Rovers were forced to battle hard to overcome a resolute Finn Harps side in a stop-start encounter in Ballybofey last night.

Gary McCabe spot on as Shamrock Rovers edge Finn Harps

Pat Fenlon’s charges had the better of the opening exchanges in Finn Park, with Harps goalkeeper Richard Brush being forced into making a number of saves.

At the other end, Harps found the Rovers’ defence difficult to unlock in a first half that never really came alive.

A serious of stoppages of injuries disrupted the flow of the game after the break but Rovers almost snatched an unlikely lead on 57 minutes, when a speculative Gary McCabe effort from long range just dipped over the bar with Brush watching anxiously.

Rovers then had a let off after Simon Madden, who was already booked, was involved in a tangle that left David Scully on the ground, but referee Neil Doyle refrained from producing a red card.

The Hoops came to Ballybofey knowing that anything less than a win would represent points dropped in their title quest.

The visitors finally made the breakthrough courtesy of a 68th minute penalty from Gary McCabe after Brush took down Danny North in the box.

Michael Drennan then had a goal disallowed for Rovers due to an offside decision.

Harps pushed hard in the closing stages with six minutes of stoppage time adding to the drama, but Rovers held on.

Given Harps’ tough opening three fixtures combined with early season injury problems, boss Ollie Horgan is probably happy enough to have a return of three points.

This result maintains Rovers 100% record in the Premier Division even if they have yet to really sparkle.

FINN HARPS: Brush; McNulty, Mailey, Cowan, Boyle (Flatley, 82); Harkin; Scully, Foy (McHugh, 70), McNamee (Funston, 79), Hanlon 6; Curran 6.

SHAMROCK ROVERS: Murphy; Madden, Blanchard, O’Connor, G. Brennan; Drennan, McCabe, K. Brennan (Craig, 68) , Miele; Shaw , North (McCaffrey, 90).

Referee: N Doyle (Dublin).

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