Finn Harps 1-2 St. Patrick’s Athletic
A poor second half Finn Harps performance was punished St Patrick’s Athletic in Ballybofey on Friday night. Ollie Horgan’s outfit had led at the break thanks to a Nathan Boyle goal. But, the visitors under new head coach Stephen O’Donnell, hit back with goals in an 11 minute spell from Darragh Markey and sub Rhys McCabe to secure the three points.
Report and pictures by Declan Kerr Finn Harps Media Officer
But, for the genuine Harps and Horgan supporters there is no need to panic just yet as they remain six points ahead of UCD with a vastly superior goal difference. There are now just six games left in the Premier Division for Horgan’s side with the next match against Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds next Friday night. Harps next home game is against UCD on Friday, October 4th. Meanwhile, with the win at Finn Park, St. Pat’s have kept alive their bid for a European place.
The home side really struggled after that and with creativity lacking and had just one late decent effort on goal when Daniel O’Reilly turned to shoot narrowly wide. The result wasn’t the way the Club wanted to mark the 50th year celebrations where eight members of the 1969 team were honoured along with a number of other past players from down the years. On a drizzly night this rescheduled fixture saw Harps have an early scare when Mark Anthony McGinley was unable to gather a cross but luckily Glen McAuley skied the ball over the bar.
At the other end Nathan Boyle was just beaten, by keeper Brendan Clarke, to a through ball from the left wing by Niall Logue. Harps had a positive five-minute spell forcing a couple of corners and came close with one Mark Timlin shot that deflected wide. At the other end the hosts survived a scary moment as good Pat’s play forced a corner on 17 minutes at the town end. The visitors got on top for a period then with a Gary Shaw shot being deflected out for a corner and another being cleared from the goal line after Jacob Borg’s attempted clearance had been blocked.
But, it was Harps who took the lead on 31 minutes when Nathan Boyle squeezed the ball home in a crowded goalmouth following Logue’s long throw-in.
A decisive moment in the game came shortly afterwards when Boyle pounced on a defensive error to beat Clarke in race for the ball, forcing the keeper into a foul. Clarke was fortunate with the leniency shown by referee John McLaughlin who just flashed a yellow card. St. Pat’s got back on level terms courtesy of Darragh Markey in the 55th minute after some slack home defending. His initial effort was pushed away by the feet of Mark Anthony McGinley but Harps couldn’t clear their lines and Markey was in the right spot to fire past the keeper.
The impressive McCabe then grabbed the winner on 66 minutes, robbing Gareth Harkin on edge of his own penalty area before producing a net finish low finish. Horgan used all his subs Raff Cretaro, Mikey Place and Tony McNamee but apart from the late O’Reilly attempt the visitors were quite comfortable and deserved their three points.
Finn Harps - Mark Anthony McGinley, Jacob Borg (Tony McNamee 82 mins), Daniel O’Reilly, Keith Cowan, Sam Todd, Niall Logue, Mark Coyle, Gareth Harkin (Raffaele Cretaro 71 mins), Nathan Boyle (Mikey Place 77 mins), Harry Ascroft, Mark Timlin. Not used: Peter Burke (Gk), Colm Deasy, Shaun Doherty, Joshua Smith, Stephen Doherty.
St. Patrick’s Athletic - Brendan Clarke, Simon Madden, Ian Bermingham, Dave Webster, Ciaran Kelly, Lee Desmond, Glen McAuley (Jake Walker 87), Conor Clifford (Rhys McCabe 46), Gary Shaw (Chris Forrester 75), Darragh Markey, Dean Clarke.
Referee: John McLaughlin.