Lyons double guides Rovers towards away win against Harps
ANDY Lyons struck a brace of goals in Ballybofey last night as Shamrock Rovers recorded a convincing 3-0 victory over Finn Harps in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division.
A Republic of Ireland U21 international – he was on the bench for the crucial European Championship qualifier success against Sweden on Tuesday – Lyons registered his maiden goal for the club in the opening period and subsequently followed up with a second inside the final-quarter.
Graham Burke also rattled the net from the penalty spot as the Hoops returned to winning ways after successive draws with Dundalk and Sligo Rovers.
This result moves Stephen Bradley’s defending champions up to second place in the table.
Although they remain three points adrift of pace-setters Derry City with a game more played, the Tallaght side are still one of the teams to beat in 2022.
With Burke and Jack Byrne providing support in behind striker Rory Gaffney – and Richie Towell linking up with Gary O’Neill in central midfield – there was quality laced throughout the Hoops starting line-up.
Club captain Ronan Finn was named at right wing-back with Lyons selected on the opposite wing.
The visitors had their first sight of the target in just the second minute when a Burke effort tested the resolve of Harps netminder Mark Anthony McGinley.
Élie N’Zeyi also forced a fine stop out of Rovers number one Alan Mannus during a lively opening to the contest.
Burke had another brace of shots that McGinley turned away, but just when it looked set to be a scoreless opening half, Lyons headed home a stoppage-time corner to give the Hoops a slender interval advantage.
Although Rovers were expected to push on after the restart, they breathed a sigh of relief when their former player Ethan Boyle rattled the crossbar on the hour mark.
Having survived this let-off, Rovers doubled their cushion with 11 minutes remaining on the clock.
Following impressive combination play with Gaffney, Lyons rifled home his second of the game to ensure the three points would be coming back to the capital.
The Hoops rounded off a good night’s work with a late Burke finish from 12 yards – after McGinley had been red-carded for upending Gaffney – and they can now embark on Friday’s Dublin derby against Shelbourne with renewed confidence.