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Harps draw some comfort

Finn Harps 0-0 Cork City

Report and photos by Declan Kerr Finn Harps Media Officer

Ollie Horgan saw his Finn Harps side secure a valuable share of the spoils against Cork City in Ballybofey on Friday night. When the two sides met at Finn Park in early March the Leesiders came out on top in a seven-goal thriller. This time there was no goals but significantly Harps got a draw that now puts them four points ahead of UCD and the goal difference has narrowed with the Students now having just a two goal advantage. However, UCD do still have three games in hand.

Horgan and Paul Hegarty will be pleased that their side didn’t concede for the second game running and will hope to repeat that on next Friday night when they travel to play UCD at the Belfield Bowl in another huge match for both sides. Collie O’Neill’s outfit lost 5-1 to Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds on Monday night. For Harps it was third league meeting with Cork this season and the second draw after the 1-1 result at Turners Cross at the end of April.

On Monday night, it was the visitors who had the lions share of possession in the first half but home keeper Mark Anthony McGinley didn’t have a save of note to make and the closest Cork came to a goal was just before half-time. Caolan McAleer did get clear on 11 minutes but his cross from the end-line was well dealt with by the opposition defence. At the other end a swift counter attack saw Gearoid Morrissey’s effort deflected out for a corner by Daniel O’Reilly. Just past the half-hour mark, McAleer got free again down the right wing. This time the delivery did cause a couple of anxious moments in the Cork defence as Mark Russell took possession but the danger was eventually cleared.

Gary Boylan should have tested McGinley on 35 points but hooked the ball over the bar following a Morrissey free-kick. Three minutes before the break Cork had  a penalty claim against Russell, waved away by referee John McLaughlin.  Then during injury time poor Harps defending from yet another Morrissey set-piece almost gifted Cork a goal but Dan Casey’s attempt was cleared off the line for a corner at the town end.

Harry Ascroft who had been booked was replaced for the second half by Mark Timlin. And the home side were batter going forward for spells. The closest Harps came to a goal was on 54 minutes when Mark Coyle teed up McAleer whose 20 yard strike whizzed past Mark McNulty’s left-hand upright.  But, just past the hour mark the hosts had a big let-off when sloppy work saw the ball fall to Darren Rainsford who lifted the ball over the bar with keeper McGinley out of position and his defenders in trouble.

Morrissey decided to try his luck from around the half-line, having spotted McGinley out from his goal, but his attempt went wide of the post at the river end.  With ten minutes of normal time remaining, a long range drive from Timlin was just inches over the crossbar. McGinley saved comfortably from a decent Conor McCarthy strike in the last significant action of the game.

Finn Harps - Mark Anthony McGinley, Jacob Borg, Niall Logue, Sam Todd, Daniel O’Reilly, Mark Russell;  Caolan McAleer (Mikey Place 85 mins), Harry Ascroft (Mark Timlin h-t), Nathan Boyle, Gareth Harkin, Mark Coyle. Subs not used: Peter Burke (Gk), Tony McNamee, Raffaele Cretaro, Keith Cowan.

Cork City - Mark McNulty, Colm Horgan, Sean McLaughlin, Conor McCarthy, Dan Casey, Conor McCormack, Gary Boylan (Gary Comerford 66 mins), Gearoid Morrissey, Darragh Rainsford (Karl Sheppard 84 mins), Garry Buckley Ronan Hurley.

Referee: John McLaughlin.