Finn Harps got their third win on the bounce courtesy of a comfortable victory over nine-man SD Galway on Good Friday.
Finn Harps 3
SD Galway 0
The westerners were still scoreless at the break but were fighting an uphill task after both Mike Gilmore and Nicky Curran were given straight red cards in the first period.
The pressure finally told on the newly-formed Galwegians and Adam Clarke made the breakthrough two minutes into the second half.
Blain Curtis added to the scoreline on 58 minutes before Michael Harty was then given a yellow for taking out Clarke when through on goal and Kevin McHugh rolled home the penalty for 3-0.
SD Galway - without a win this season - will be hoping to put things right when they take on Mervue United next weekend. For Harps, who defeated the Mayo League and Waterford United in their last two outings, it was also a third clean sheet on the bounce and there’s no coincidence they have coincided with Peter Hutton’s return to the team.
The home side started with 16-year-old goalkeeper Shaun Patton - after regular netminder Ciaran Gallagher was ruled out with concussion in last week’s 2-0 win over Waterford United.
Visiting goalkeeper Ronan Burke had a fortunate escape inside five minutes when his attempted clearance was blocked down by Curtis, only for the ball to ricochet wide off the Harps striker.
The hosts had most of the ball to begin with, although their cause was helped when Gilmore was sent off by match referee Darren Coombes on 21 minutes for retaliating to a challenge from Harps winger Clarke, who was booked for the initial challenge.
Patton, in goal, made a remarkable save from Michael Tierney moments later. Unbeknownst to the teen the SD Galway frontman - who dropped into midfield to fill the vacancy of the dismissal - was offside but the stop brought a standing ovation from the home support.
Harps continued on the front foot and Simon Paul Treacy - the winger who curiously was also the back-up goalkeeper - hit the crossbar with a great curling shot just before the half-hour mark.
SD Galway, at the other end, went close but Harty’s shot was wide of the post before the second sending off furthered their odds.
Full-back Curran had words with Ciaran Coll and appeared to headbutt the defender, who went to ground. After consulting with his assistant referee Coombes sent Curran from the field seven minutes before the interval.
With the numbers bound to add up at some stage, Harps scored the opening goal on 47 minutes. Clarke made his way in from the right side and after a give and go with Tommy McBride, retrieved possession and shot crisply in at the near post.
The home team played a simple game, content in the knowledge that if their continued to stretch their opponents, they would continue to tear them.
Thirteen minutes into the second half it was two when McHugh played strike partner Curtis into space and he placed the ball past the advancing goalkeeper and in at the base of the post.
On 62 minutes it got worse for SD Galway when Harty fouled Clarke. The away defender was fortunate not to join the queue at the shower. McHugh scored the penalty with the minimum fuss.
Harps continued to have a monopoly of opportunities as SD Galway’s goal lived a charmed life. Eric Browne cleared from substitute James Doherty after some pinball in the box before Burke denied McHugh a second goal. All in all though, it was a good Friday for the Ballybofey side.
Finn Harps: Shaun Patton; Hugh. Carlin (James Doherty 46) Peter Hutton (Aaron O’Hagan 63) Thomas McMonagle, Ciaran Coll; Adam Clarke, Shaun McGowan, Thomas McBride, Simon Paul Treacy; Blain Curtis (Matt Harlin 78) Kevin McHugh.
SD Galway: Ronan Burke; Nicky Curran, Eric Browne, Paddy Quinlan, Tommy Bradshaw; Ronan Conlon, Michael Harty (Colm Horgan 78) Eugene Greaney (Timmy Molloy 70) Mike Gilmore; Michael Tierney, Enda Curran.
Referee: Darren Coombes.
Hugh Carlin wasn’t having a bad game at right back but James Doherty came on after the interval from as much an attacking sense as a defensive one. He and Ciaran Coll provided outlets that stretched the nine men and it all fell into place from there.
Man of the match
Every team needs a good engine room and in Thomas McBride and Shaun McGowan Harps have found a good pairing. The duo compliment one another very well and laid the foundation for the win. McGowan inches in from his colleague, although no Harps player was poor on the night.
Felix Healy admitted afterwards if he were SD Galway manager Tommy Mannion he wouldn’t have been best pleased with the two red cards. That’s not to say that Darren Coombes had a bad game, more like the visitors were indisciplined. In truth, Michael Harty should’ve alos been sent off for a professional foul on Adam Clarke.