FINN HARPS overcame Derry City on Friday night at Finn Park as Dave Scully and Ryan Curran netted in a 2-1 win. Here’s a look at five things we learned:
- Finally, Finn Harps bury their Derry City hoodoo
IT WAS surely one of the most wretched records in football prior to Friday night’s 60th north-west derby with Finn Harps having recorded only five wins in the previous 59 games.
In League football, the scales were tipped way in Derry’s favour, with the Foylesiders having lost only once against Harps – that way back in February 1998, when Donegal O’Brien, now City’s assistant manager, scored the only goal of the game for Harps.
“I definitely think there is a mental block with Harps,” Derry legend Liam Coyle ssaid last week. “Even when Harps had their good teams, they couldn’t quite get a period of dominance over Derry.”
Friday marked Harps’ return to the Premier Division in some style. The aesthetics of it weren’t the prettiest, but the scoreboard at the end told the story of the end of an era of Derry dominance: Harps 1 Derry City 0.
Finally, the Indian sign has been lifted.
Picture caption: Adam Hanlon of Finn Harps in possession of the ball with Derry City’s Conor Mc Cormack close by. Picture by Gary Foy, newsandsportfiles
- Fortress Finn Park could hold the key for Harps
KENNY Shiels, the Derry City manager, summonsed the Football Association’s Match Delegate, Jim McConnell, around 45 minutes before the kick-off and expressed his dissatisfaction with the state of the Finn Park surface.
In fact, Shiels felt that the pitch was bordering on unplayable and let his feelings be known after his side lost 2-1.
“I feel sorry for the supporters because we weren’t able to play. There were restricting circumstances,” Shiels said after his first game as the Derry boss.
“There are players I couldn’t put on that pitch tonight, footballers who we felt it wasn’t for. That’s not excuses, it’s just fact.”
Former Harps and Derry manager Felix Healy called the pitch – which has been considerably narrowed – ‘a leveller’.
Ollie Horgan noted ‘there may be better pitches in Ireland, but it was playable and it was safe’.
There are few teams in the League who wll enjoy the Ballybofey experience and that’s just how Horgan and his men will like it.
- Tony McNamee’s touch of class
THERE was more than mild surprise when the team sheets dropped on Friday night and Tony McNamee was among the substitutes.
McNamee was Harps’ young player of the year in 2015 having really excelled after making a place in the starting line-up his own in June.
When McNamee made his Premier Division debut in 2014, Liam Coyle was gushing in his praise of the Ramelton man, while Roddy Collins, then the Derry manager, was quick to pluck him from the Ulster Senior League team and throw him in the senior side.
It is clear to see why.
A hamstring injury to Sean Houston in the 19th minute offered McNamee his chance to shine – and he did just that. It was no coincidence that Harps upped the tempo immediately after McNamee came on.
McNamee dictated the flow and his first act was a long throw-in from which Packie Mailey had Harps’ first shot on goal. His play on the ball was a real feature of the game for a player of real refinement.
- Barry Molloy gives Harps a Premier touch
BARRY Molloy’s signature last week was a real coup for Ollie Horgan and while Molloy is clearly not the player of old, there can be no doubting that the 33-year-old will add a great deal to the Harps engine room.
Molloy captained Derry City during a glorious period for the club and knows what it takes in the Premier Division.
That experience alone will be invaluable for Harps, but a knee injury that looks to rule him out of action for a couple of months comes as a hammer blow for Harps.
It was surely a kick in the teeth for Horgan, who just days earlier managed to prise Molloy out of retirement.
- Shiels’ rebuilding job bigger than anticipated
THERE were worrying signs for Kenny Shiels in his first competitive outing as Derry City manager in Ballybofey.
While Derry did have the better of the play for periods, it was Harps who such more fight, spirit and heart, something that will have hit hard for the Candystripes supporters who began filing into the night when Ryan Curran – one of their own – netted Harps’ second goal.
Dave Scully had given Harps the lead in first half stoppage time, but Curran’s goal gave the hosts a killer edge.
With Gareth McGlynn and Rory Patterson back in the City team, they came to Ballybofey hopeful of putting out a statement, but Shiels and Derry left with more questions than answers.
The Derry Board have already expressed concerns about crowds at the Brandywell and Friday will have done little to boost the attendances.Tags: