FINN HARPS had Kevin McHugh to thank for a brace of goals as Peter Hutton’s team enjoyed a fine away win at Dundalk in Friday night’s pre-season fixture.
The Killea native scored two second half goals for the Ballybofey side as they won on the astroturf at the home of the Premier Division side.
Harps enjoyed a decent first half and Michael Funston forced Peter Cherrie to push the ball away after he shot across goal.
McHugh saw a free-kick go just over the bar just before the break but scoreless it remained.
The second half continued much like the first with neither team able to gain control of the ball. However, on 52 minutes the visitors went in front.
Harps broke with the ball and a brilliant cross from Mickey Funston on the left reached McHugh who rose highest to head past Cherrie in the Dundalk goal.
Dundalk’s Stephen O’Donnell almost replied for the hosts but his long distance shot went just wide of Ciaran Gallagher’s left hand post.
The Lilywhites did fall further behind just before the hour mark. Hesitancy by the Dundalk defence allowed Funston to get in behind and he got to the ball before Cherrie who brought him down leaving referee Paul McLaughlin no option but to point to the spot on 58 minutes. McHugh stepped up and calmly dispatched the spot kick.
“I was delighted for the lads as the win reaffirmed the belief in the hard work they have been doing in pre-season,” Hutton said. “Playing against a team like Dundalk brought our pre-season onto a new level and it was particularly pleasing to see our players get stronger the longer the game went on.
“The lads were sharp and we are getting good use out of our squad. We picked up a couple of minor injuries but noithing too serious. Aaron O’Hagan got a bang on the foot, Keith Cowan had a sore groin and James Doherty went over on his ankle. Those knocks might take a week or so to recover from.
Harps have two friendlies this coming weekend. On Saturday at 7.45pm they take on Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds and then on Sunday at 2pm it’s Letterkenny Rovers at the Aura Centre.
“We hope to use all the players we have in the squad at some stage over the weekend,” Hutton continued.
“Sligo will be a huge test. they won the Premier Division last season and the match will be a good barometer for us to see where we are at right now. But pre-season has been going well for us and everyone is rowing in behind and that can only stand us in good stead for when the season starts for real next month in Waterford.
Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; John Sullivan (Fergal McMahon 83), Mark Rossiter (Eoghan Osborne 63, Andy Boyle (Robert Maloney 83), Dane Massey; John Dillon (Darren Meenan 46), Richie Towell, Stephen O’Donnell (Stephen McDonnell 63), Keith Ward (Tiarnan Mulvenna 71); Patrick Hoban (Sami Osobe 63), Kurtis Byrne.
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher; Matt Crossan, Keith Cowan (Josh Mailey 46), Tommy McMonagle, Damien McNulty (Sean McCarron 78); Mickey Funston, Sean McGowan, Tommy McBride (Jordan Duffy 78), Aaron O’Hagan (Matt Harkin 12), Ciaran Coll (Mark Forker 63); Kevin McHugh (Paul McVeigh 63).
Referee: Paul McLaughlin.