TUNDE Owolabi will have his name forever etched in Finn Park folklore after his penalty saw Harps dump Derry City out of the FAI Cup.
Finn Harps 1 Derry City 0
By Chris McNulty at Finn Park. Pictures by Joe Boland, North West Newspix
Owolabi netted the only goal of the game 16 minutes from the end as Harps scored against and beat Derry for the first time in the Cup.
It was a night that lacked the spark of a Cup tie for long periods, but the Town End terrace leapt as one when Owolabi riffled home for Harps’ fifth successive win.
When Ryan Rainey was upended by Ronan Boyce, referee Rob Harvey pointed to the spot.
Owolabi, the hat-trick hero in a 3-1 League win over St Patrick’s Athletic a week ago, stepped up and smashed the penalty high past Nathan Gartside.
What had been a timid derby was all of a sudden ignited, Owolabi’s goal the first ever scored by Harps against their derby foes in the FAI Cup.
Rainey had a quick fire chance to double the lead, but his far post header, from Adam Foley’s cross, was off target.
Veteran former Derry City goalkeeper Gerard Doherty, a mid-season signing by Harps, had to be on his toes to keep out a deflected shot by Derry sub Evan McLaughlin nine minutes from the end.
Doherty, who turned 40 on Tuesday, was included in a Harps side that posted four changes from last weekend’s win over St Patrick’s Athletic. There were returns, too, for Shane McEleney, Johnny Dunleavy and Foley.
Doherty and his opposite number, Nathan Gartside, were barely called into action in a tame first half.
Harps had big claims for a penalty waved away by Harvey with the last play before the break. After Owolabi’s initial attempt was blocked, Rainey’s shot appeared to strike the hand of Jack Malone, but Harvey, positioned on the edge of the penalty area, turned down the appeals.
Owolabi fired into the side netting with Harps’ best move of the opening 45 minutes. Latching onto Barry McNamee’s prodded pass, Owolabi was unable to hit the target from the right-hand side.
Jordan Mustoe, who got room to manoeuvre down the left channel, was off target with two attempts from long range. The Harps left-back was forced off injured in the final minute of the half with Karl O’Sullivan coming into the action.
At the other end, Derry fared little better with Joe Thompson firing over the top and Danny Lafferty saw his effort easily gathered by Doherty.
Eleven minutes into the second half, the mercury went up a notch when Foley fizzed narrowly over at the Town End before the Dubliner warmed the palms of Gartside as Harps began to pick holes in the visitors’ rearguard.
On the hour, Gartside turned away Foley’s testing effort from the edge of the area – the first shot on target of the night.
Nine minutes from the end, Doherty saved well from Evan McLaughlin’s deflected drive.
Derry went in search of late salvation, Doherty saving Jamie McGonigle’s pile driver and turning over from Ciaran Coll’s ambitious bullet from distance.
The end was nigh and soon Johnny Dunleavy, Ballybofey born and bred and after playing a lead role in the historic win was the very picture of what it meant to those in blue.
Finn Harps: Gerard Doherty; Ethan Boyle (Kosovar Sadiki 67), Shane McEleney, Dave Webster, Jordan Mustoe (Karl O’Sullivan 45); Johnny Dunleavy, Mark Coyle; Ryan Rainey, Barry McNamee, Adam Foley; Tunde Owoabi (Sean Boyd 84).
Derry City: Nathan Gartside; Ronan Boyce (Patrick Ferry 84), Eoin Toal, Ciaran Coll, Danny Lafferty; Ciaron Harkin (Evan McLaughlin 76); Jack Malone, Bastien Hery (James Akintunde 65), Joe Thompson; Junior Ogedie Uzowkwe, Jamie McGonigle.
Referee: Rob Harvey.Tags: