Finn Harps U13s booked their place in the National League Cup Semi Final on Saturday with a comprehensive 4-1 victory over Longford Town at Ballyare. Two goals inside the final 10 minutes added a gloss to a deserving Harps win against the spirited midlanders.
From the off it was the home side who looked the most dangerous and had the ball in the net early when Conor Kelly pounced on the ball to fire home inside the six yard box however the joy was short lived with the referee ruling it out for offside.
Longford, who themselves had reached a national league shield semi final a few weeks ago, were heavily reliant on goalkeeper Peter Doyle in the opening stages. Doyle pushed a goal-bound Liam Carlin strike around the post while minutes later got down quickly to deny Adam McDaid after good buildup play from Luca Barrett.
Doyle could do nothing about the opening goal however. A quick turn on the edge of the box by Conor Kelly with the Harps midfielder drilling a low shot which found its way into the bottom right hand corner.
Longford almost replied instantly through a corner delivered by Colm Duffy. His corner from the left evaded the Harps defenders before hitting the post and dropping away from danger.
The best play of the half came towards the end when Sean Patton reversed a pass through to Adam McDaid who crossed for Barrett at the back post to header just wide.
Early into the second half Harps doubled their lead. A perfectly weighted pass from McDaid into Patton allowed the striker to open his body to curl his right footed effort past the substitute keeper.
Less than a minute later Longford hit the woodwork for a second time. This time Ryan Kelly rose high to power a header though his attempt cannoned back off the crossbar.
Longford reduced the deficit with 15 minutes remaining. Callum Rigney raced onto a ball between the Harps defenders before calmly striking low past Killian Hagan.
Within 5 minutes Harps had restored their two goal advantage with a wonderful goal. Shaunie Bradley’s run between the Longford centre halves was found by a delightful lobbed pass from Darragh Coyle, Bradley controlled with his first touch before having the awareness to chip the onrushing goalkeeper with his second, leaving the keeper stranded.
Harps began to take control of the game again in the closing moments of the match. Bradley was denied by goal line block before the ball fell to Joel Gibson on the edge of the box who struck a half volley which was fantastically tipped over the bar by the keeper.
From the resulting corner Harps got their fourth. A number of Harps players attacked the ball however it was Shane Ellison who got the telling touch to force it in past the post.
In the final minute Harps hit the crossbar twice with Bradley being denied on both occasions with impressive efforts.
The result leaves Harps looking towards both a National Shield Final and National Cup Semi Final which will be away to Athlone next weekend.