FINN HARPS overcame a stubborn Mayo League side in Castlebar yesterday afternoon to progress through to the second round of the EA Sports Cup.
Goals from Matt Harkin, James Doherty, Marc Brolly and Thomas McBride sent the Airtricity League side on their way to what became a comfortable victory.
Mayo were dealt a major blow in the first half when they had goalkeeper Neil McNicholas sent off and in truth it blew any chances they had of going through.
The first chance of the game Harps forward Matt Harkin in the ninth minute. Marc Brolly whipped in an inviting cross that Kevin McHugh flicked into the path of Harkin but the striker never settled himself and volleyed wide. Brolly was again involved in Harps next chance as he got on the end of Michael Funston’s cross but he headed narrowly wide. Despite being on the back foot for the opening twenty minutes Mayo came up with the best chance of the first half. David Cameron sent in a low corner that Joe Geraghty wrapped his foot around but his stinging volley fizzed past Ciaran Gallagher’s post. The home side had a nervy moment soon after when Brolly’s deep cross bobbled in the six yard box but Mayo ‘keeper Neil Mc Nicholas gathered the ball before Matt Harkin could shoot. McNicholas would not stay on the pitch much longer as he was shown a straight red card for a last man foul outside the box on Michael Funston.
David Hoban was sacrificed so Mayo could introduce substitute goalkeeper Gary Cunningham. From the resulting free kick Brolly struck just wide of the post.
That was to prove to be the last real chance of the first half as the sides went in level at 0-0.
Harps began to up the tempo at the beginning of the second half and they finally registered a shot on target when Matt Harkin swung the ball in from the right for Funston and his header was clawed brilliantly out of the top corner by Gary Cunningham.
Cunningham was busy again two minutes later when he had to foil Funston’s attempts for a second time when he tipped the wingers low shot around the post.
He was powerless to prevent the games first goal though as Harkin met Brolly’s precise cross to head across the goal and into the top corner. After finally breaking the deadlock Harps grew in confidence and they soon doubled their lead.
Kevin McHugh used superb footwork to get around two Mayo defenders before slipping the ball into James Doherty’s path who coolly slid the ball into the bottom corner.
Colm Nevin was introduced to give Mayo a fresh outlet in attack and he helped to claw them back into the game when he sent in a cross from the left wing that Keith Duffy squared across goal before Thomas Mc Monagle put the ball into his own net. It was a richly deserved goal for a Mayo side who had defended admirably up to that point.
It was soon cancelled out however when Brolly got the goal his superb performance deserved.
Sloppy defending at the back and a reluctance to clear the ball gave Brolly the time and space to smash a low shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
Substitute Thomas McBride completed the scoring when he turned in Brolly’s cross at the back post. Mayo finished the game with nine men as defender Steven Ryan was forced off through injury but Finn Harps couldn’t add to their tally.
Mayo League: Neil McNicholas; Keith Duffy; Andy Neary, Martin Geraghty, Steve Ryan; Daniel Gorman, David Cameron, Jaunius Mockus (Colm Nevin 57), David Hoban (Gary Cunningham 35); Ronan O’Boyle (Matthew Hamilton 60), Mick Duffy.
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher; James Doherty, Matthew Crossan, Thomas Mc Monagle, Damien Mc Multy; Aaron O’Hagan (P Mc Veigh 57), Michael Funston, Shaun Mc Gowan, Matt Harkin (Tommy Mc Bride 70), Kevin Mc Hugh (Jordan Duffy81), Marc Brolly
Referee: Damien McGrath