Shamrock Rovers showed a real sign of intent with respect to their title ambitions by going ten points clear at the top of the table by beating Cork City 3-1 on Friday night – their first win in Turner’s Cross for six seasons.
The victory, helped by two goals by Aaron McEneff and Sean Kavanagh's first of the year, leaves last season’s runners-up Cork City trailing the Hoops by 15 points.
Rovers went close early in the game with Greg Bolger’s hooked shot on six minutes from edge of the area having Mark McNulty scrambling in the City goal.
The visitors grabbed the lead midway through the first half as Sean Kavanagh swept home a fine passing move that began with Joey O’Brien who came in at right back in place of the injured Sam Bone.
Aaron Greene did well to hold Finn's long ball up and bring Bolger into the play and his right foot cross was right in the path of Sean Kavanagh who made no mistake from the edge of the six yard box.
Two minutes later Hoops captain Ronan Finn clattered one off the City cross bar with a great right foot effort from wide left.
On 27 minutes it looked like Graham Cummins had grabbed an equaliser for the Leesiders. He had the ball in the back of the net off James Tilly's free kick but the offside flag was raised to rule it out.
The Hoops doubled their lead on 36 minutes. Aaron McEneff got the benefit of a deflection off Sean McLoughlin that took the ball by McNulty but five minutes later City reduced the deficit.
A cleared City corner was put back in the box by Conor McCormack. Roberto Lopes' attempted clearance came to Dan Casey and he was in the right place to head it home passed Alan Mannus.
Just after the hour mark, the Hoops put the game out of reach of the Leesiders. McEneff was given way too much time out side the City box to pick up Jack Byrne’s centre.
McEneff let fly with the outside of his right foot and the ball swerved by McNulty’s despairing dive to find the back of the net - a superb finish by McEneff for his fifth of the season and confirm Rovers’ sixth league win in a row.
With the champions Dundalk losing away to St. Patrick’s Athletic it really was a superb night for the Hoops who laid down a marker in this season’s title race.
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Conor McCarthy, Sean McLoughlin, Dan Casey, Kevin O’Connor (Shane Griffin 72); Conor McCormack, Gearoid Morrissey; James Tilley (Liam Nash 64), Garry Buckley, Karl Sheppard © (Dan Smith 80); Graham Cummins.
Subs not used: Tadgh Ryan, Garry Comerford, Alan Bennett, Gary Boylan.
Booked: Karl Sheppard (75), Conor McCormack (88).
Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Joey O’Brien, Lee Grace, Roberto Lopes, Trevor Clarke; Aaron McEneff, Greg Bolger; Ronan Finn © (Dylan Watts 82), Jack Byrne, Sean Kavanagh (Brandon Kavanagh 90); Aaron Greene (Orhan Vojic 76).
Subs not used: Leon Pohls (gk), Ethan Boyle, Joel Coustrain, Dean Dillon.
Referee: Rob Harvey.
Extratime Player of the Match: Aaron McEneff (Shamrock Rovers).