Danny Morrissey scored his first goals for Finn Harps and the returning Packie Mailey was also on the scoresheet as Harps got a welcome win against St. Patrick’s Athletic on Monday night.
Finn Harps . . . 3
St. Patrick’s Athletic . . . 1
It was a first win in six game for Ollie Horgan’s side and it means they move off the bottom of the table on goal difference.
Indeed with both Sligo Rovers and Galway United losing on Monday night, Harps and St. Pat’s are now among five clubs sitting joint bottom on 14 points.
This latest victory was earned on the back of a clinical first half performance. All three Harps goals came in that first 45 minutes as the home side were rewarded for a hard-working and hugely impressive display.
St. Pat’s, it must be said, were in some way the authors of their own downfall as they were guilty of a couple of sloppy errors in the lead-up to Morrissey’s goals.
Then when Mailey headed in just before half time to mark his return to first team duties following his horrific head injury.
With injuries and suspensions impacting on his squad, Ollie Horgan was forced to reshuffle his pack. Ciaran O’Connor and Killian Cantwell were both susprnded while Jonny Bonner and Michael Funston replaced the injured Paddy McCourt and Barry Molloy.
On a perfect evening for football, the visitors started the brighter, but it was Harps who hit the front on 8 minutes. A hopeful delivery by Damien McNulty prompted St. Pat’s keeper Conor O’Malley into coming to meet the cross at the edge of his box. But what he didn’t count on was Danny Morrissey out-jumping both a defender and the keeper to head the ball into the net from 16 yards.
It was a poor mistake from O’Malley but he did better moments after when dashing from his line to save from Morrissey after a lovely through-ball from Sean Houston.
St. Pat’s almost drew level when a wonderful free kick from Ian Bermingham bent round the wall but went the wrong side of the post.
The Funston went close at the other end, shooting over from a narrow angle.
The second arrived on 28, Morrissey taking advantage of a sloppy back-pass from Gavin Peers to round the keeper and tuck the ball home.
Then just three minutes before half time, Harps struck for their third. Mailey, up from the back for a Jonny Bonner free-kick, got on the end of the midfielder’s inviting delivery to head into the bottom corner.
It brought an end to a quite superb first half performance from the home side who hassled and harried their opponents at every opportunity and for once, they took their chances when they presented themselves.
To be fair to St. Pat’s, they showed much greater fight in the second half. Going three at the back following a double substitution at the break, they were on top after the turn-around and Fagan was unlucky to see his shot deflected wide for a corner.
Harps however, defended well with Mailey in particular, catching the eye in the backline.
But the home side had a lucky escape midway through the half when from one of several corners, Peers’ header was taken off the line by a defender.
The visitors’ pressure eventually paid when Fagan was picked out by a cross from the right and he guided his volley in past Gallagher.
But that was all they could muster as gutsy Harps saw out the win.
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher, Ethan Boyle, Ciaran Coll, Damien McNulty, Packie Mailey, Gareth Harkin, Michael Funston, Jonny Bonner (Barry Molloy 88), Danny Morrissey (Simon McGlynn 83), Sean Houston, Caolan McAleer.
St. Patrick’s Athletic: Conor O’Malley, Michael Barker, Ian Bermingham, Gavin Peers, Rory Feely, Lee Desmond (Alex O’Hanlon 73), Conan Byrne, Graham Kelly (JJ Lunney 45), Darragh Markey, Christy Fagan, Kurtis Byrne (Josh O’Hanlon 45).
Referee: John McLaughlin.