Finn Harps manager Peter Hutton would’ve left Finn Park with a twinge of regret on Friday night as his side were denied a place in the FAI Cup semi-final by Mick Daly’s late equaliser.
Harps’ odds in the betting shop would’ve been further stretched with an away replay at Hunky Dorys Park on Monday night.
And although Hutton’s team performed well for long spells, it will be Drogheda who entertain Dundalk for a place in the final at the Aviva Stadium in November.
“Inconsistency has been a big blow for us in the league campaign,” he said on Monday night in Drogheda.
“In the cup we’ve been as to raise our games against the opposition. We did it on Friday night but couldn’t do it again. It’s disappointing, but I can’t fault the players’ effort or commitment.”
Hutton assumed that, with Drogheda facing Shamrock Rovers on Saturday in the EA Sports final, Mick Cooke would’ve hope to see off Harps early in the match.
To counter that ploy, Hutton’s team opened with a 4-5-1, leaving Kevin McHugh often very isolated in an effort to frustrate their guest early on.
The plan seemed to be working as Ciaran Gallagher wasn’t tested in the first 45 minutes, while Keith Cowan drew and excellent save from Michael Slingermann.
However, Declan O’Brien broke Harps’ resistance on 50 minutes with a scrappy opening goal.
“Unfortunately we were the architects of our own downfall again,” Hutton said. “We made very silly mistakes in the lead up to their first goal.”
Damien McNulty was given a second yellow card with 20 minutes left but his manager had no sympathy for him.
“He basically ran 20 yards to get involved in something he didn’t need to - particularly when he was already on a yellow card,” Hutton said.
“He was justifiably sent off. When you raise your hands you’re walking a tight rope.”
Harps battled well till the end and were still pushing for an equaliser as stoppage time started but were caught on the break as David Cassidy confirmed Drogheda’s progression.
“We were chasing the game when they got the second and we were three at the back,” Hutton added. “You expect to leave gaps then, but the damage was done by then.”