Finn Harps confirmed their place in the U13 National League semi finals on Saturday with a hard fought 3-1 victory over Athlone Town. In a game that was played at the Melvin Sports Complex in Strabane, two fine first half goals set the young Harps on their way to a valuable three points.
Both sides struggled to get control in the early stages of the game in what were testing conditions on a slick Melvin astro, with Tiernan McGinty fashioning the only real chance of note when he headed over from an inviting cross.
Harps took authority in the game midway through the half and opening the scoring from a well delivered corner kick. Ciaran O'Kane found himself in space inside the Athlone area and the former Carndonagh FC player met the corner to force the ball past Szymon Skura, the Athlone goalkeeper.
Harps looked the livelier of the two sides and in particular Aaron McLaughlin was getting joy against the Athlone backline. The tricky winger's individual run almost lead to a second Harps' goal, through Shaun Patton could only head over from the eventual cross.
Harps doubled their lead moments before the half time whistle, when Liam Carlin converted from a promising free kick position. Carlin curled his left footed free kick from 25 yards over Skura and inside the far corner of the net.
Athlone reduced the deficit early into the second half with an almost identical goal to Carlin's. When Athlone were awarded the set piece just outside the Harps box it was Kealan Connell who stepped up to produce the same result curling the ball high past Shane Adair.
Their delight was short lived as within minutes Harps had re-established their two goal lead. A hopeful ball through by Carlin was raced onto by McLaughlin who, with Skura advancing, lifted it over the keeper before calmly slotting into the empty net.
As the game progressed towards its end Athlone continued to press for a result to take back to the midlands, though their best chance fell to Oluwafolabomi Odekunle in the final second when his speculative chipped effort was unlucky to drift just wide of the Harps upright.
Harps will finish off their league campaign with an away trip to Oriel Park in two weeks time.