Finn Harps 1-3 Galway Utd
The twists and turns in the battle at the bottom of the League of Ireland Premier Division continued on Friday night as Finn Harps lost to Galway United in Ballybofey. It means that Ollie Horgan’s outfit has only taken one out of a possible nine points against the Tribesmen this season.
Even with 11 men Finn Harps would have struggled to take three points against Galway. But the red card received by Paddy McCourt five minutes into the second when the sides were tied at 1-1 each left the home fans clinging on to the slim hope that Ollie Horgan’s men could hold on for a draw.
The bookies would have been giving long odds on that happening based on the impressive first half performance produced by the Tribesmen. Harps did hold on until the 75th minute when Ronan Murray’s free-kick put the visitors in front and while the Finn Park faithful might have been disappointed it was no great shock to them when that goal arrived. Galway made sure of the victory when Murray got his second with eight minutes of normal time remaining.
Horgan made one change in personnel from the win over Bray with Gareth Harkin coming in for Barry Molloy. However, the manager did make a couple of surprise positional changes with Kilian Cantwell moving to right-back; Ciaran Coll was chosen in the centre of defence and Harkin slotted in at left-back.
The hosts started brightly enough with Mark Timlin prominent down the right flank but it was the visitors who took the lead when Gavin Holohan opened the scoring on 13 minutes with the heart of the home defence badly exposed. At the other end Eddie Dsane did test Conor Winn with a deflected shot that the keeper did well to push around the post.
But, Harps were struggling against an impressive opposition and were fortunate not to be 2-0 down on 16 minutes when big striker Jonah Ayunga nipped in with a header that went narrowly wide and later keeper Ciaran Gallagher had to slide in with a tackle to clear the ball for a throw-in. Dsane had a goal disallowed for an off-side infringement before Horgan’s outfit missed a great equalizing opportunity on 27 minutes. A Sean Houston pass found Dsane and his quick turn forced a foul inside the penalty area.
However, Winn got down well to push away Dsane’s spot-kick for a corner. Gallagher made another good stop to keep it at 1-0 before Harps enjoyed a better attacking spell with a dangerous Caolan McAleer cross forcing Paul Sinnott to hack the ball out for a corner. Horgan had to make an early substitution with Damian McNulty coming in for the injured Harkin. Winn was tested by an Ethan Boyle strike while a McNulty header from a McCourt corner forced a desperate clearance from the visitors.
On 45 minutes Dsane made up for the penalty miss heading home Caolan McAleer’s cross after the Omagh man did really well down the right side in a quick break after a Galway corner. But Harps were reduced to 10 men early in the second half when McCourt was dismissed for a second booking.
Galway capitalized as Ronan Murray netted a brace in a first away win for Shane Keegan’s side in the league this year.
The result sees Galway move to within two points of the Donegal men. The hosts fell behind when Stephen Folan was perhaps fortunate to earn a free kick off McNulty on 75 minutes. Murray’s subsequent 25 yards strike sailed into the top corner for the attacker’s tenth goal of the year.
On 82 minutes the Tribesmen made sure of the three points when Murray was left with a simple finish to hand United their first away win in the league since the second week of the 2016 season.
At 2-1 down Horgan did sacrifice a defender Packie Mailey with Abrahim Keita being introduced up front. Harps did try to get a goal back with Timlin again lively down the left wing on his home debut. The Buncrana man got in a couple of crosses with Dsane just failing to connect with the first while McAleer fired over after the ball was only partially cleared from the second Timlin cross. But there was relief when a Galway shot came back off the post at the river end on 80 minutes. Near the end Dsane and Timlin combined but Houston’s header didn’t have sufficient power to trouble Winn.
Finn Harps – Ciaran Gallagher; Kilian Cantwell, Packie Mailey (Ibrahim Keita 77), Ciaran Coll, Gareth Harkin (Damien McNulty 40); Mark Timlin, Sean Houston, Paddy McCourt, Ethan Boyle, Caolan McAleer (Pascal Millien 86); Eddie Dsane. Not used: Peter Burke (Gk), Barry Molloy, Tommy McBride, Jonny Bonner.
Galway United – Conor Winn; Colm Horgan, Paul Sinnott, Stephen Folan, Marc Ludden; Kevin Devaney (Gary Shanahan 91), David Cawley, Alex Byrne (Ronan Manning 66), Gavan Holohan; Ronan Murray; Jonah Ayunga (Eoin McCormack 94).
Referee: Neil Doyle
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