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Dundalk too good for Harps

League leaders Dundalk proved too strong for Finn Harps in Ballybofey on Saturday night. Ollie Horgan’s side did quite well for the first half-hour but then Michael Duffy headed the visitors in front and the hosts chances of getting anything from the game were effectively ended by the in-form John Mountney just before half-time. Brian Gartland who had scored in the corresponding game at Finn Park back in late February, added the third to help Dundalk go five points clear at the top of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division after Shamrock Rovers had to settle for a home draw against Derry City at the Tallaght Stadium.

Thanks to Joey O’Leary Financial Services, Match Sponsor for Saturday night’s game against Dundalk at Finn Park.  Joey is pictured here with Caolan McAleer. Photo by Stephen Doherty.

Once again errors in conceding possession were ruthlessly punished by the reigning champions and Horgan has repeated the absolute need for that aspect of the Harps game to improve quickly, otherwise it will be a quick return to the First Division. “We gave away three goals against Dundalk that could have been avoided. Nobody is going out to make mistakes and to be fair lads are doing their best. But, we have  to review the game and learn lessons quickly because St. Pat’s next Friday night will certainly be looking at what has been happening with us over the last four games and the numbers goals that have been given away” Horgan said.

Goalkeeper Mark Anthony McGinley came in for his first league start and did quite well while Liam Walsh started up front and both Gareth Harkin and Mark Timlin got some game time as second half substitutes. Dundalk started on the front foot but the Harps defence was coping.  However, on 32 minutes, the visitors made the breakthrough when the hosts lost possession, allowing Patrick McEleney to find Mountney and his cross was headed past McGinley by the unmarked Duffy.

Match Ball Sponsor Freddie Stewart of Fred’s Golf Shop Ballybofey for Saturday night’s game against Dundalk at Finn Park

Horgan’s men did push forward but failed to seriously test keeper Gary Rogers. Mark Russell came closest with a shot that went over the bar.And Dundalk capitalised again at the other end with a decisive second goal just two minutes before the break. This time it was a McEleney cross that found the head of Mountney to make it 2-0. After the interval, Harps, again tried to get a lifeline with Daniel O'Reilly and Mark Coyle both being denied by Rodgers. However, any faint hopes of a remarkable comeback were ended by a third headed goal. This time it was big Gartland rising to nod home a Jordan Flores free-kick.

Late on Rogers was forced into a super save, diverting an O'Reilly effort over the bar.

All photos courtesy of Stephen Doherty.

Finn Harps - Mark Anthony McGinley; Keith Cowan, Niall Logue (Gareth Harkin 71), Daniel O'Reilly; Jacob Borg, Sam Todd, Mark Coyle, Liam Walsh (Mark Timlin 59), Mark Russell; Mikey Place; Raff Cretaro (Nathan Boyle 63). Not used: Peter Burke (Gk), Colm Deasy, Tony McNamee, Stephen Doherty

Dundalk - Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Daniel Cleary, Dane Massey; Chris Shields (Dylan Hand 88), Jordan Flores; John Mountney (Daniel Kelly 75), Patrick McEleney, Michael Duffy (Georgie Kelly 66); Patrick Hoban