Table toppers Shamrock Rovers grabbed a dramatic 1-0 win over Finn Harps at Finn Park with Greg Bolger’s 85th minute scorcher from the edge of the box proving decisive.
This result puts Rovers seven points clear at the summit while Harps are still seeking their first win and remain bottom of the Premier Division.
But it was rough justice on the battling Donegal side who will feel that they merited a share of the spoils.
The Hoops had three players away on international duty – Jack Byrne, Trevor Clarke and Brandon Kavanagh – but declined to avail of the option of getting the game postponed.
Rovers, who had already beaten Harps 3-0 in Tallaght earlier this month, started slowly.
Indeed, Harps had the first chance of note on 13 minutes when Caolan McAleer sent in a free deep into the box but Daniel O’Reilly was unable to make the telling connection at the other end.
Dan Carr wasn’t far away from connecting with an Aaron Greene cross for Rovers but Harps had the better of the early exchanges.
It took Rovers 18 minutes before they first tested Ciaran Gallagher who got down well to save a Dylan Watts strike after a neat exchange of passes.
Both sides had shots blocked at either end in a competitive first half.
Watts fired over from inside the box for Rovers on 35 minutes, but that was to be their last chance in a first 45 minutes that struggled to come to life.
Certainly, Harps boss Ollie Horgan - who had to watch this one from the stands as he is serving a three-game ban – would have been the happier manager at the break.
Harps had a scare right after the re-start when goalkeeper Ciaran Gallagher spilled a Joey O’Brien cross but Keith Cowan was on hand to clear.
Arran Greene had the ball in the net shortly afterwards but he was clearly off-side.
Sean Kavanagh wasn’t far off target with a 30 yard drive on 66 minutes but Rovers were finding it hard to break down a stubborn home defence.
Nathan Boyle was nearly in for Harps as the game moved into the last 15 minutes.
Both teams pushed for a winner and Bolger obliged after a short spell of pressure as the ball came to him and he let fly with a cracking shot.
So Rovers extend their lead at the top but this was far from a title winning performance.
Next up for Harps is a long trip for Waterford and they then have seven games in April.
Life back in the top flight is not getting any easier for the Donegal club.
Finn Harps: Gallagher; Todd, Cowan, Logue; Deasy, Kavanagh, Coyle, Borg (Cretaro, 69 mins), O’Reilly; Boyle (Place, 82) , McAleer.
Shamrock Rovers: Mannus; O’Brien, Lopes, Grace, Kavanagh; Watts, Finn, Bolger, McEneff (Coustrain, 66); Greene (Bone, 86), Carr (Vojic, 75)
Referee: Mr. D. Tomney (Dublin).
If you have a story or want to send a photo or video to us please contact the Donegal Now editorial team. Between 9am and 5pm Monday to Sunday please call 074 9112712. Between 5pm and midnight please call or text 086 792 2103. Or you can email [email protected] at any time.