Sports

Gutsy display from Harps in league opener

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Gutsy display from Harps in league opener thumbnailFinn Harps' goalkeeper Ciaran Gallagher looks on as Barry Molloy holds off all comers in his effort to clear the ball from the penalty area during the match against Cork City at Finn Park.

FINN Harps can take heart from their opening SSE Airtricity Premier League opener in Ballybofey last Friday night.

Finn Harps ....0
Cork City ....1

Despite going down by the only goal of the game, they gave a dynamic Cork side plenty to think about and at times, proved more than capable of causing an upset.

Sadly for the home support it was not to be on this occasion and battle as they did with the visitors and the slippery underfoot conditions, Harps just could not get that all elusive opportunity that could have seen a share of the spoils.

Cork played with purpose and skill and threatened the home side throughout but never managed to quite stamp any degree of overall authority on the game.

The home side started with new signing Paddy McCourt on the bench but there were debuts for Omagh's Caolan McAleer, Ciaran O'Connor, Danny Morrissey and Killian Cantwell - all of whom showed great potential for the campaign ahead.

The only goal of the match came right on the stroke of half time when Sean Maguire found the net after a defensive mistake. Cork started to take control as the break approached and they stole the lead just seconds before the interval.Maguire took advantage of some hesitation in front of his own goal by Damien McNulty and stole possession before firing low into the bottom corner. Up to this , Cork had rarely threatened against a new-look Harps starting eleven.

Cork had a glorious opportunity just minutes into the second half when they failed to force the ball home after Steven Dooley's corner found its way through a ruck of players before being cleared off the line.

The fought hard to stay on top and were good value for their lead but Harps lifted their game for the final quarter. The introduction of McCourt brought the biggest cheer of the night while Gareth Harkin and new signing from Longford Town, Eddie Dsane came on for the closing period.

By that stage of the contest, Cork were playing with ten men after Garry Buckley was shown a second yellow card on 76 minutes.

A fine save from Ciaran Gallagher to deny Jimmy Keohane kept Harps in the contest.

But just as they did in Ballybofey last season, Cork held out for a narrow win to ensure their title challenge is off to a winning start.

Harps manager, Ollie Horgan and his mentors can take heart from this outing and despite losing by the only goal of the game, they should feel happy that they won't meet as many talented sides as Cork in this league.

Local lad, Johnny Dunleavy lined out in defence for Cork. The Ballybofey man acquitted himself very well having just returned from a long spell of injury.

Harps face Bray Wanderers away this coming Friday, March 3 for what will be a tough encounter. A win would put them back on track.

Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher, Ethan Boyle, Ciaran Coll, Killian Cantwell, Damien McNulty, Barry Molloy (Gareth Harkin 77), Jonny Bonner, Sean Houston (Paddy McCourt 70), Danny Morrissey (Eddie Dsane 77), Ciaran O'Connor, Caolan McAleer.

Cork City: Mark McNulty, Conor McCormack, Kevin O'Connor, Johnny Dunleavy, Ryan Delaney, Greg Bolger, Jimmy Keohane, Gearoid Morrissey, Garry Buckley, Sean Maguire, Steven Dooley (Alan Bennett 89).

Referee: Robert Harvey.

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