Finn Harps’ Stephen O’Donnell revealed after his two goals against Salthill Devon on Saturday night that he wasn’t best pleased when he learned ay half-time he’d have to move from midfield to attack.
Harps lost top-scorer Kevin McHugh to an injury at the break and the management team of Peter Hutton and director of football Felix Healy told O’Donnell to take up the more advanced role for the second half. O’Donnell, who rejoined Harps from Kildrum in the Ulster Senior League in the summer, ended up putting in a man of the match performance up front, scoring two goals and contributing much more besides.
He scored the opening goal of the game from a close range header following a free-kick into the box on 53 minutes by Kevin Devaney and then finished off a flowing move that involved Devaney, Conor O’Grady and Gary Curran two minutes from time.
After having a stint at Harps under the management of Anthony Gorman back in 2006, O’Donnell, a native of Manorcunningham, was delighted to open his account for his second spell at Finn Park.
“I wasn’t happy at half-time when I was told I had to move up front but I’m willing to play anywhere and was delighted to get the two goals,” O’Donnell said afterwards. “It’s about time and hopefully now they’ll start to roll every week. We’ve been saying every week we are good enough and it’s just a matter of believing in ourselves and believing in each other. I got it tough I have to say when I decided to come back to Harps. There’s a big difference between playing intermediate soccer and senior soccer.
“People might say there’s not that much of a difference but there is. I’m starting to really enjoy it now, though, as I fell fitter and fitter every week. It’s good and I’m happy.”
The 2-0 home win over the side managed by former Harps striker Paul McGee means the Ballybofey club have now gone 390 minutes without conceding a goal, with Denis Behan’s belter for Limerick FC six weeks ago being the last. Harps travel to Cork City’s Turner’s Cross on Friday night in the fifth-last outing of the season.
“We’ve been doing well at the back of late but we also try and get men forward when we are on the attack,” O’Donnell added. “We’re moving forward as a unit and not leaving it all to the centre forwards. We also defend as a unit, which means we don’t concede as much. If we keep doing the basics right we can go and do is build from there. We’re all looking forward to the Cork game next week.”