UCD 1-1 Finn Harps

After taking an 80th minute lead at Belfield, Finn Harps fans were dreaming of a shot at a possible league title next weekend but UCD proved just why they were top team in the First Division for most of the season by hitting back almost immediately for a precious equaliser. That goal from former Reading player Conor Davis ultimately proved decisive as it secured the league title for the students and a place in the Premier Division for the first time since 2014.

While it turned out to be a disappointing finale to the game for Harps, the good news was that the result means that Ollie Horgan’s men are now sure of second place in the table after other results went their way.  The visitors needed to defeat UCD in order to have a chance of winning the First Division next weekend. That was still going to be a tall order as the Students again only required a draw from their final game to take the title.

However, that wasn’t to be but Harps did draw a little satisfaction from the fact that they managed their first point against Collie O’Neill’s side this season and that extends their unbeaten run to nine games. The result at Belfield also means Harps will avoid the 3rd v 4th place play-off, which hopefully will strengthen their bid for promotion. Horgan, serving a one-game touchline ban, watched the big top of the table clash from the Stand as a large visiting support got behind the team who made an encouraging start. John O’Flynn in for the suspended Mikey Place probably should have done better with an early header from a Jesse Devers.

Ref David Keeler waved away a handball claim from Harps after a Ciaran Coll effort was deflected out for a corner while Devers was denied by keeper Conor Kearns. The hosts did threaten through McClelland and Ferrugia as but nothing that tested Ciaran Gallagher.  Following the break Harps carved out a good chance just after the hour mark when Devers did get through but a well timed tackle robbed the Mayo man of the chance to test seriously test Kearns. The visitors were on top and a dangerous Gareth Harkin free saw the ball fall to Niall Logue who blasted over when he should have at least hit the target. Harps were really going for the win with Paddy McCourt being introduced and then Timmy Sobowale was sent on to boost the attacking options.

Horgan’s men took the lead on 80 minutes when Sam Todd scored following a Harkin corner. It was the big Carn man’s second goal against the Students this season. But, disappointingly the visitors weren’t able to hold onto the lead as UCD equalised almost immediately when Conor Davis latched onto a through ball to slip the ball past Gallagher.

UCD – Conor Kearns, Dan Tobin, Josh Collins, Greg Sloggett, Evan Osam (Paul Doyle 53), Gary O’Neill, Timmy Molloy (Daire O’Connor 71), Jason McClelland, Neil Ferrugia, Liam Scales, Conor Davis (Yoyo Mahdy 91).

Finn Harps – Ciaran Gallagher, John Kavanagh, Keith Cowan, Sam Todd, Niall Logue (Oluwatunmise Sobawale 77 mins), Ciaran Coll, Jesse Devers, Mark Coyle (Paddy McCourt 73 mins), Jacob Borg,  John O’Flynn (Nathan Boyle 62 mins), Gareth Harkin. Not used: Peter Burke (Gk), Aidan Friel, Tommy McBride, Adam Duffy.

Referee: David Keeler.

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