Joy of six for Shamrock Rovers as leaders restore eight-point lead

Three-goal blitz late in the first half blows Waterford away
Joy of six for Shamrock Rovers as leaders restore eight-point lead

 Roberto Lopes scores Shamrock Rovers' second goal against Waterford. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Shamrock Rovers 6 

Waterford 1 

A three-goal blitz late in the first half laid the foundation for this facile victory as managerless Waterford had little answer to a rampant Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium.

Stephen Bradley’s unbeaten Hoops thus restored their eight-point lead at the top of the Premier Division table ahead of visiting champions Dundalk on Sunday.

At it from the off, Dylan Watts and Aaron McEneff had early chances before a terrific save by Waterford goalkeeper Brian Murphy deprived Aaron Greene.

Graham Burke should have scored on 21 minutes, but shot into the side-netting after rounding Murphy from Watts’ sublime through ball.

A 35th minute Michael O’Connor shot deflected over for a corner marked a mere reprieve for Waterford as Rovers went down the other end and scored three times inside four minutes before the interval.

Greene, on his 100th appearance for the club, punished sloppiness by Jake Davidson to latch onto a Neil Farrugia pass and beat Murphy for the opener on 41 minutes.

Two minutes later Roberto Lopes wasn’t picked up from a Jack Byrne corner to power a header into the roof of the net. Fellow defender Lee Grace did likewise right on 45 minutes, heading home another Byrne corner.

Byrne got in on the scoring act four minutes after the restart, drilling a left-footer past Murphy from a tight angle following skipper Ronan Finn’s cross.

It was 5-0 on 58 minutes, a 27th birthday strike for Burke who collected Farrugia’s pass to crack a low shot across Murphy to the far corner.

A composed finish from O’Connor brought Waterford’s 67th minute consolation when he rifled low to the net from a Tyreke Wilson cross.

It mattered not, as Rovers could afford the luxury of playing out the last eight minutes or so with 10 men after Lopes went off as a precaution.

Substitute Dean Williams then added the gloss to Rovers’ win with a first senior goal for the club on 90 minutes, finishing calmly following Byrne’s pass.

SHAMROCK ROVERS: Mannus; O’Brien (Scales, 59), Lopes, Grace; McEneff (O’Neill, 59), Watts; Finn (Marshall, 64), Byrne, Farrugia (S. Kavanagh, 59); Greene (Williams, 64), Burke.

WATERFORD: B. Murphy; Sobowale, Davidson, McCourt, Wilson; Weir (Power, 85); Byrne (Fitzgerald, 64), Coote, Martin (O’Keeffe, 64), Smith; O’Connor.

Referee: Paul McLaughlin (Monaghan).

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