FINN HARPS lost out to League champions and Europa League-bound Dundalk at Oriel Park last night.
Patrick McEleney and Daryl Horgan netted the goals that put defensive Harps to the sword in a game that started a busy spell of six games in a 19-day spell for Ollie Horgan’s team.
- Dundalk own the ball and are in a different League …
LAST night was surely as long a 90 minutes that these Finn Harps players have endured, even taking into account that this was a Dundalk side that smacked them 7-0 earlier in the season at Finn Park.
Dundalk were in cruise control for the most part here, just three days ahead of their Europa League group stage encounter away to AZ Alkmaar.
Stephen Kenny’s team had 72 per cent of possession, we learned, and it was easy to believe given that the Dundalk goalkeeper Gary Rogers was a spectator for much of the contest.
A 63rd minute header by Keith Cowan was the closest Harps came to a chance on a night when Dundalk’s superiority really showed.
- … but take their time to seal the deal
AS Ollie Horgan, the Harps manager, noted afterwards, Dundalk were getting a tad edgy until Daryl Horgan finally put the game out of Harps’ reach with the second goal in the 75th minute.
When Patrick McEleney broke through for the opening in the sixth minute, the tie had déjà vu written all over it, but Dundalk couldn’t add to that strike until Horgan netted.
There were only 15 minutes remaining and the hosts – despite being in complete command – were getting restless and the fear slipping in that maybe, just maybe, Harps could steal something.
With one eye on Thursday’s European game, Dundalk were perhaps a little complacent. The result never seemed in any doubt, though, and Horgan’s goal confirmed three points that puts the Lilywhites ten clear at the summit.[adrotate group=”50″]
- Ciaran Gallagher shows his worth to Harps again
AT the end of May, Harps ended a poor run of results with what was something of a surprise 1-1 draw away to Shamrock Rovers. Ciaran Gallagher was Man of the Match that Sunday in Tallaght.
Ollie Horgan, unsure as to his preferred number 1, opted to give Richard Brush the nod for the following week’s game and, after a 3-0 win over Sligo Rovers, it was Brush who kept the spot since.
Gallagher, who has spent most of the campaign in reserve, delivered yet another reminder of his talents.
That Dundalk had to wait until the 75th minute for the killer second goal was down to the on-form Gallagher, whose saves prevented the scoreline from stretching.
Early in the game, he turned over after John Mountney’s shot spun wickedly off Ciaran Coll, while Mountney, Horgan, David McMillan and Patrick McEleney were all thwarted by the Harps netminder.[adrotate group=”46″]
- BJ Banda: Remember him?
IT HAS been a curious few months for BJ Banda. At the beginning of last November, the teenager headed Finn Harps into the Premier Division and, with it, nodded himself into Harps folklore with his dramatic match-winner in the promotion-relegation play-off against Limerick FC.
Banda was catapulted onto cloud 9 and it was certainly some rise for a man who only a few months earlier was playing in the Donegal Youth League for Letterkenny Rovers.
He had been thrust into first team action because of the number of injuries and a brace of goals against Wexford Youths made him an instant hit.
This season, however, Banda hasn’t featured at all. His inclusion for the recent derby against Derry City was the first time his name appeared on a first-team list all season and last night’s late cameo was his Premier Division bow.
The Royal and Prior schoolboy has had a lot to take in since that magical moment and there has been a reluctance from Ollie Horgan to use him, perhaps in the player’s best interests.
Banda hasn’t gone away and, with Horgan’s squad threadbare at the moment, he could be rather more prominent again in the coming weeks.[adrotate group=”81″]
- Longford game the one that truly matters
FINN Harps already have daylight between themselves and Longford Town but, with Wexford Youths now breathing heavily on Harps’ shoulders, Friday’s game against basement boys Longford is massive for Horgan’s men.
Wexford are just five points adrift of Harps now and still have to host the Ballybofey brigade at Ferrycarrig Park.
Harps have lost their last six League outings and are in a wretched run of form, but Friday’s is a game they simply must win or they’ll slip ever closer to that perilous play-off spot.
Given that Damien McNulty, Sean Houston and Barry Molloy had to miss last night and with Ruairi Keating carried off, Harps are down to the bare bones, but the daren’t lose on Friday for all sorts of reasons, not least for their own sanity between now and season’s end.[adrotate group=”53″] Tags: