By Killian McHale

Shamrock Rovers made it three wins on the spin on Monday night with a comfortable 3-0 win over UCD AFC in Tallaght.

Goals from Jack Byrne and a brace from Graham Burke were enough to earn the Hoops all three points to lift the Hoops up to third place in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division.

Fresh off the back of a 2-0 win over Dublin rivals Bohemians on Friday night, Stephen Bradley brought in Roberto Lopes, Darragh Nugent & Trevor Clarke into his starting-eleven for the clash with the students, with Dan Cleary, Neil Farrugia and Sean Kavanagh all dropping to the substitutes bench.

Rovers controlled the play right from the off, and although the visitors came with a game plan to sit in and frustrate, they found it difficult to withstand the quality within the Rovers side.

The Hoops came closest to opening the scoring on the 15th-minute mark when Trevor Clarke was played in down the left wing, but his driven effort at the near post blasted the wrong side of the side-netting.

Rovers pushed on from here, and just 5 minutes later they found the breakthrough. A slick move from back to front involved Jack Byrne threading a through-ball in behind the student’s defence, into the path of Rory Gaffney, who squared it across to strike-partner Graham Burke to tap home on the six-yard line to open the scoring.

And it was two just minutes later. A Jack Byrne corner was headed back across goal by Sean Hoare before the bouncing ball fell to the feet of Graham Burke at the back post to blast high into the roof of the net beyond Kian Moore in the UCD goal to double Rovers’ advantage.

Just after the half-hour mark, the visitors had their first attempt on goal when a cross-field pass found Daniel Norris who cut in from the right before forcing Alan Mannus into a low save at his near post to keep his clean sheet intact.

Rovers kept their lead at half-time and right from the off in the second half looked to put the away side under pressure. Graham Burke did well to get past two defenders in the UCD box, before forcing Kian Moore to be on his toes to intercept Burke’s attempted pullback for Trevor Clarke at the back post.

Moments later it was that man Burke who again was causing trouble in the UCD penalty area, this time weaving his way through the student’s defence before laying off to Rory Gaffney on the penalty spot whose backheeled effort was blocked into the path of Trevor Clarke, who then fired wide of the UCD goal to keep the score at 2-0.

Rovers second-half efforts were eventually rewarded when Jack Byrne scored the Hoops third just before the hour-mark. Byrne found himself with plenty of space just to the left of the UCD box, and his curled effort found its way into the back of the net, much to the disappointment of Moore in the UCD goal.

Burke was inches away from getting his hat-trick – in what was his last action of play before being substituted – when Rory Gaffney’s pull-back fell to the feet of the attacker and his first-time effort from 12 yards narrowly went over the UCD crossbar.

The game fell into a bit of a lull after this, with both sides knowing the game was well and truly over with the Hoops controlling the play throughout. Rovers saw out the remainder of the game to comfortably pick up their third win in a row, keeping three clean sheets and scoring 9 goals in the process.

Rovers return to Tallaght this coming Friday, with Shelbourne FC the visitors in a 7:45 pm kick-off, as we look to continue our fine run of form.

Shamrock Rovers: Mannus; Hoare, Lopes ©, Grace; Nugent, Watts (68’ Ferizaj), Poom (62’ Farrugia), Clarke; Byrne (62’ Kenny), Burke (68’ Noonan), Gaffney (82’ Gannon).

Shamrock Rovers Unused Substitutes: Leon Pohls (GK), Dan Cleary, Sean Kavanagh, Gary O’Neill.

UCD: Moore; O’Regan, Keaney ©, Keane; Norris (73’ McCarthy), Barr, Bolton (55’ Nolan), Dempsey; Behan, Doyle (73’ Izekor), Clarke (62’ O’Connor).

UCD Unused Substitutes: Donal Higgins, Sam Healy, Harvey O’Brien, Kyle Donoghue.

Attendance: 4,012.