A Jack Byrne inspired performance saw Shamrock Rovers secure a comfortable four goal win away to Waterford at the RSC.
Byrne scored a superb brace while his two assists saw Stephen Bradley’s side secure an easy win on the South-East coast.
Substitute Thomas Oluwa added the gloss to a five star performance from the Hoops, with Aaron Greene’s second half double aiding the cause significantly.
Fresh from a morale-boosting two goal win away to Derry City at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium on Friday evening, the Hoops started well and went close with just under sixty seconds on the clock.
Greene’s industrious work was rewarded with a corner that Jack Byrne took. The former Manchester City star then arced a superb ball into the path of Lee Grace, but the defender was unable to steer his header on target.
Minutes later, a Byrne corner once again caused havoc, with Roberto Lopes and Ethan Boyle the going close from a similar situation, but Matthew Connor was on hand to save smartly from close range.
Clearly struggling with set plays, Lopes ought to have given the Hoops a first-half lead with just under twenty to play, as his thundering header just went past the post of Connor’s goal, rising above Blues captain Rory Feely with relative ease.
However, the opening goal was coming, and it finally arrived through the sweet strike of Byrne who left the Waterford keeper with no chance whatsoever, firing into the top corner from thirty yards out.
Former UCD talisman Gary O’Neill teed the ball off to the in-form attacking midfielder who took a touch and fired into the net, helped by the stretching hand of Connor in the hosts goal.
Lightning struck twice minutes later as Byrne arguably surpassed his earlier strike with another brilliant strike from range.
Ronan Finn’s rampaging run from the right opened up space in the middle of the park. Finn then passed the ball to the electrifying Byrne who arced a superb strike into the net, leaving Connor with no chance.
With nothing going their way whatsoever in the opening period, Cory Galvin offered a brief glimpse as to what was to come in the opening stages of the second half, when his long-range drive whizzed just wide of the post.
The Blues went into the second a different side, with the introduction of Dean Walsh helping their cause significantly. Walsh proved troublesome in the early stages, but he was unable to turn home after some good play from recent recruit Walter Figueira.
Despite controlling the play and pattern of play for the opening third of the second half, the Blues were punished by some slack defending as JJ Lunney’s back pass was intercepted by Greene.
Greene then made no mistake from inside the penalty area to all but end Waterford’s slim hopes of a second half fightback as Alan Reynolds was left cursing his sides luck after a good period of play.
The inspirational Byrne then made it four minutes later with a superb assist from deep that found Greene. Greene then grabbed his second of the night with a calm finish to continue the Hoops impressive away record.
With Byrne taking all the limelight, Galvin made his mark on the game with just under twenty minutes to play thanks to a quality curling strike that nestled in the top corner of Alan Mannus’ net.
However, while there was a brief rally from the Blues, they fell further behind as the full-time whistle approached.
Sub Oluwa tapped home at the back post after a low cross from the returning Burke found its way to the striker to cap off a brilliant night for Stephen Bradley’s side.
Waterford: Matthew Connor; Rob Slevin, Kevin Lynch (Sam Bone, h/t), Maxim Kouogun, Rory Feely, Kenny Browne; JJ Lunney (George Poynton, 70), Tom Holland (Dean Walsh, h/t), Shane Duggan; Cory Galvin, Walter Figueira.
Subs not used: Dean O'Halloran, Michael O'Connor, Paul Martin, John Kavanagh.
Booked: Maxim Kouogun (10).
Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Sean Kavanagh, Lee Grace, Ethan Boyle, Roberto Lopes; Ronan Finn (Brandon Kavanagh, 68), Jack Byrne, Gary O'Neill, Dylan Watts; Aaron Greene (Thomas Oluwa, 76), Graham Cummins (Graham Burke, 41).
Subs not used: Brandon Kavanagh, Sean Callan, Graham Burke, Greg Bolger, Aaron McEneff, Thomas Oluwa, Leon Pohls.
Booked: Roberto Lopes (78).
Referee: Robert Harvey
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Jack Byrne (Shamrock Rovers).