FINN Harps drew a blank on a night of immense frustration in Ballybofey as the First Division’s basement club, Waterford United, left for home with a share of the spoils.
Finn Harps 0 Waterford United 0
Damien McNulty headed past Robert Birdsall, the Waterford goalkeeper, in the 73rd minute, but finger nails were shortened and hairlines eroded as promotion-hopefuls Harps were held to a scoreless draw.
It wasn’t as if they didn’t have their chances, either.
That moment, 17 minutes from the end, when McNulty magnificently headed home looked, just briefly, as if it could be a seminal strike in the season, but an offside flag denied the full-back.
More frustratingly is the fact that, on review of the footage, McNulty clearly came from an onside position.
Picture caption: Ciaran Coll clers the danger under pressure. Picture courtesy of Gary Foy
Rob Waters came in for his first home appearance as a Harps player, the Cork native taking the place of Nathan Boyle, reported unwell beforehand, but did appear for the last 18 minutes.
Harps opened with intent, but Michael Funston drove over after Keith Cowan’s ball over the top picked out the Bonagee man.
Soon after, Ciaran Coll – having his most consistent season at Finn Park – pushed past Dean Reidy and Waters fired wide with the connection.
Harps could have taken the lead in the 17th minute when Kevin McHugh played in McNamee. A shot-cum-cross was missed by inches by Waters, who was rushing in at the far post.
Just after the half-hour, McNamee ought to have hit the target when he connected to Waters’ centre, but the Ramelton man headed over from 8 yards.
The Waterford team bus arrived down Navenny Street with only three substitutes aboard.
Bottom-of-the-table Waterford appear to have given up the ghost this season, but they ensured it was a frustrating evening for the home followers as they headed for half-time still scoreless.
Harps had a real let off eleven minutes into the second half when Anthony McAlavey set up Corey Galvin and he struck the post.
The ping of the goalframe as like an alarm bell gone off inside Finn Park and
McHugh headed narrowly over the Town End after a long throw-in from McNamee wasn’t dealt with.
Finn Park erupted when McNulty powered home a header from McNamee’s inviting free kick, but the offside flag of Alan Dunne, the assistant referee, cut short the celebrations.
Harps turned the screw wih Coll firing wide and Robert Birdsall thwarting substitute Boyle at close range.
That chance for Boyle was the one Harps were left to rue at the conclusion of a night that put a big dent in their title hopes.
Waterford played the final five minutes with Matthew Connor, a goalkeeper, stationed up front after Daniel Pender was carried off on a stretcher.
In added time, Boyle fired wastefully wide and the silence that followed summed up the feelings.
A missed opportunity, particularly with UCD being held in Athlone, was the narrative of the night.
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher; Damien McNulty, Keith Cowan, Thomas McMonagle, Ciaran Coll; Michael Funston (Nathan Boyle ’72), Gareth Harkin (Matthew Crossan ’58), Raymond Foy, Tony McNamee; Rob Waters (Wilfried Tagbo ’66), Kevin McHugh.
Waterford United: Robert Birdsall; Dean Reidy (Robbie Buckley ’78), Colm Nugent, Shane Mackey, Shane Dineen; Corey Galvin, Evan Galvin, Brian Nolan, Anthony McAlavey, Aaron O’Connor (Mark Walsh ’66); Daniel Pender (Matthew Connor ’85).
Referee: Ray Matthews (Mullingar).Tags: