FINN HARPS’ hopes of topping section 3 in the Under-19 League were dashed by slick Sligo Rovers at Maginn Park this afternoon.
Finn Harps Under-19s 0 Sligo Rovers Under-19s 3
Letterkenny native Chris Flanagan gave Sligo the lead after only 63 seconds and Joe Boyle’s Harps never truly recovered from that early blow.
A penalty by Gary Armstrong in the 40th minute and a third by sub Mikey Place late in the day secured an impressive win for the Bit O’Red.
On the lush green pasture of a Maginn surface that appeared as though it had been shielded from the battering of this week’s weather, Sligo continued their fine form.
They’d been the only side to previously defeat this Harps side – who included recent hero of the hour BJ Banda in attack – in a 3-1 win at The Showgrounds last month.
Harps were without the injured Declan Sharkey and the unavailable Oisin Hassett and they were rocked when Sligo stole a march with the hands just ticking past the opening minute.
Brian Morley created the break with a strong run down the right-hand side. His cross was dummied by Liam Flatley and Flanagan, a former Harps player, finished superbly into the bottom corner.
A glut of bookings – there were ten in all over the 90 minutes – threatened to ruin the game as a spectacle and, from a Harps perspective at least, it did.
Midfielder Mark Coyle was the recipient of two of those bookings. His first, in the 21st minute was for a foul on Callum Frimpong and, nine minutes later he was given his marching orders having been pulled up for another over-zealous challenge by referee Marty McGarrigle.
By then, Sligo had flexed their muscles further. A free-kick routine off the training ground saw Morley, Armstrong and Flatley combine with the latter’s shot saved at the near post by Lee McCarron.
Morley was lively in the opening period and his cross was just taken off the head of the in-rushing Ross Tierney while Flatley fired wide after doing the hard work in turning in a phonebox-sized space.
Five minutes before half-time, Sligo doubled the lead. McCarron took down Armstrong and the striker dusted himself down to convert the penalty.
It took a goal-line block by Daire Ó Baoill to keep out an effort by Jason Hunt that could have made it three in injury time.
Armstrong, twice, was denied while the best Harps fashioned was a free kick from Gareth Doherty that was well saved by Jack Burke.
On 85 minutes, Place put the cherry on top as he turned home from Cathal Carney’s cross to secure top spot – and a home draw in the knockout stage – for Sligo.
For Harps, it’ll be a tie on the road.
Finn Harps Under-19s: Tommy Lee McCarron; Liam Doherty (Paul Ferry ’74), Daire Ó Baoill, Paul McDermott, Nathan Clifford; Keelan McDermott (Eoin Slevin ’79); Daragh Black, Gareth Doherty, Mark Coyle, Luke Nelis (Simon McGlynn ’46); BJ Banda.
Sligo Rovers Under-19s: Jack Burke; Ryan O’Donoghue, Shane McCallion, Ross Tierney, Fintan Borotto; Brian Morley (Martin Walsh ’79), Chris Flanagan (Cathal Carney ’68), Callum Frimpong (Keelan Kennedy ’88), Jason Hunt (Mikey Place ’79); Liam Flatley (Paul Doyle ’68), Gary Armstrong.
Referee: Marty McGarrigle.Tags: