Finn praises Hoops' spirit after shooting down Sheriff
RONAN FINN insisted that Shamrock Rovers are fusing better in Trevor Croly's second season in charge after they kept their ambitions of a league and cup double intact at Tolka Park.
Sheriff YC 0 Shamrock Rovers 4
This time last year, nearing the midway point of the campaign, the Hoops were all but out of the title race following a disastrous start to Croly's reign.
Conversely, Saturday's destruction of Sheriff YC puts them into the last 16 of the FAI Ford Cup, while solid form on the league front has kept the Hoops within seven points of leaders Dundalk with a game in hand.
The turnaround can perhaps be attributed to the characters and camaraderie in Croly's dressing-room.
While departing centre-back Derek Foran described the mood in the camp as "horrible" and "nasty", one of the remaining mainstays acknowledged an upturn in cohesion levels.
"Maybe the team spirit wasn't as good last season," admitted man of the match Finn, who set up three goals on Saturday.
"As a group, we've maybe come together better. I think we learned from last year.
"You don't like to reflect on it too much. We haven't even compared the tables between this year and last year."
If he does survey the standings, the midfielder will realise that a victory over Cork City at Tallaght Stadium on Friday would leapfrog them above the Rebels heading into the mid-season break.
Revenge is also a high priority, given how the Leesiders thumped Rovers 3-0 last time out.
"Cork beat us comprehensively down there in what was probably our worst performance of the season," explained the former UCD and Sporting Fingal player.
"It's something that we've remembered. It wasn't a nice journey coming back from Cork that night. This is a game I've earmarked ever since."
They'll certainly go into the match fresh, having sauntered past Sheriff. Once Gary McCabe found the top corner from Finn's cross on two minutes, Rovers assumed full control.
Kieran Marty Waters set up Ciaran Kilduff to head in the second four minutes later and the provider drilled in the third from an acute angle on 49 minutes.
Substitute Eamon Zayed could afford to squander a sitter before completing the scoring on 64 minutes following a flowing move involving Finn and Waters.
SHERIFF YC – Halpin, Flood, Kavanagh, O'Neill, Larkin (Browne 46), Lester, D Dunne, O'Brien (Stephen Murphy 65), Sean Murphy (Lynch 65), K Dunne, Rock.
SHAMROCK ROVERS – Hyland, Madden, Kenna, McGuinness, Cornwall, Robinson,Brennan (Sheppard 72), McCabe (O'Connor 56), Waters, Finn, Kilduff (Zayed 56).
REF – T Connolly (Dublin)