Shamrock Rovers steer their way out of trouble to keep double dream alive
Dublin side were awarded three second-half penalties against Finn Harps
Shamrock Rovers’ Graham Burke celebrates scoring the winning goal with Aaron McEneff in the FAI Cup quarter-final against Finn Harps at Finn Park in Ballybofey. Photograph: Evan Logan/Inpho
Finn Harps 2 Shamrock Rovers 3
Double-chasing Shamrock Rovers got three penalties and scored from two of them as they got out of jail and came from 2-0 down to overcome plucky Finn Harps 3-2 in a cracking FAI Cup quarter-final clash on a gluepot of a Finn Park surface on Friday.
Harps deservedly led at the break after a purple patch saw goals from Barry McNamee and Stephen Folan in a five-minute spell. But Rovers struck back in the second half with two successful but controversial spot-kicks from Aaron McEneff and what turned out to be the winner from Graham Burke.
Rovers, who last tasted defeat against Harps in a league game in 2018, were then stunned again as Harps doubled their tally on 20 minutes.
Ryan Connolly whipped in a corner and towering defender Folan rose to connect with a header that dropped just under the bar.
Rovers pulled one back in controversial circumstances on 50 minutes when Sam Todd was adjudged to have fouled Liam Scales. Mark McGinley saved McEneff’s spot-kick, but as the ball spun loose it was deemed that Mark Russell had handled and another penalty was awarded and this time McEniff duly obliged.
Harps were still hopping mad with the decision when Rovers got a third penalty after McGinley was penalised after Burke ended up on the deck as he attempted to go around him.
McEneff stepped up to score again and the sides were level at 2-2 with 55 minutes on the clock.
Burke fired Rovers ahead on 71 minutes after Ronan Finn had been denied by a fine save from McGinley.
Harps, who went into the game as 25-1 rank outsiders to win the competition, had a penalty plea for handball turned down late on, and Rovers also survived an injury-time goalmouth scramble, but held on to book their place in the last four.
FINN HARPS: McGinley; O’Sullivan (T McNamee, 88 mins), Webster, Folan, Todd; Coyle (Donnellan, 62 mins), G Harkin (R Harkin, 62 mins), Connolly, Russell (Cretaro, 75 mins); B McNamee; Foley (Kogler, 75 mins).
SHAMROCK ROVERS: Mannus; Grace (Lopes, 45 mins), O’Brien, Scales, Lafferty (Kavanagh, 45 mins); Finn, McEneff, Byrne, Watts; Burke (Marshall, 80 mins), Greene (Oluwa, 87 mins).
Referee: R Hennessy (Limerick)