Buncrana man Jonny Bonner scored twice as Finn Harps just about got the better of Cockhill Celtic in Monday night’s EA Sports League Cup 1st round tie at Finn Park.
Finn Harps . . .3
Cockhill Celtic . . . 1
The midfielder’s second came on 75 minutes when he drilled a wonderful effort in off the underside of the crossbar from 25 yards.
Just three minutes earlier, Cockhill had got the tie back to 1-1 when Derek Doherty found room inside the box and shot into the corner past Harry Doherty.
At that stage, Cockhill were playing with great confidence and their goal was just rewards for a typical hard-working display.
But they were eventually undone by a piece of Bonner brilliance. Substitute Sean Houston killed off the tie with Harps’ third on 80 minutes.
Credit to Cockhill, they showed just why they are so dominant at Intermediate level in Donegal. They were well organised right through the team and worked ever so hard when not in possession. They defended well too with Peter Doherty and Oisin McColgan excellent in the centre of defence.
As expected, Ollie Horgan rang the changes to the side that lost at Shamrock Rovers on Friday night. Simon McGlynn and goalkeeper Harry Doherty made their first starts while BJ Banda, Packie Mailey, Tommy McMonagle and Michael Funston were also included.
It was a strong Harps side, but Cockhill started with confidence and Gerry Gill and James Bradley caught the eye early on in midfield.
It was from one of Gill’s pinpoint passes that Cockhill were almost in for the opening goal. Garbhan Friel ran onto the midfielder’s perfect delivery, but from a difficult angle, his well struck effort went across the face of goal.
Harps enjoyed plenty of the ball but they were guilty of taking too much out of possession at times and because of that, they struggled to create any decent chances in the opening stages.
But a moment of wonderful skill from Eddie Dsane led to the opening goal on 29 minutes. The Harps man worked a brilliant opening inside the box before he was upended by a Cockhill defender. Jonny Bonner clipped home the resulting penalty to give the home side the lead.
Gavin Cullen then came to his team’s rescue with two excellent saves, first denying McGlynn and then Ethan Boyle.
But McGlynn should have doubled the lead just before the break but he mis-timed his header with the goal at his mercy and the ball drifted wide.
Friel showed in the early stages of the second half why he carries such a threat in attack for Cockhill when from a bicycle kick inside the harps box, his effort was just over.
Frustratingly for the home supporters, Harps enjoyed the lion’s share of the ball, but they rarely troubled Cullen in the second half.
Indeed, with Harps showing no sign of grabbing a second, Cockhill began to grow in confidence and midfielder James Bradley wasn’t too far away with a long range volley on 70 minutes.
Two minutes later, they did find the net when Friel pounced on some hesitancy in the Harps defence and as the ball ran through to Derek Doherty, he kept his nerve to find the bottom corner.
Cockhill’s celebrations didn’t last too long however, as Harps were back in front soon after with Bonner’s beauty.
Houston then added the third on 80 minutes, sliding the ball home after Cullen had saved the Harps man’s initial effort.
Finn Harps: Harry Doherty, Ethan Boyle, Gareth Harkin (Ciaran Coll 45), Packie Mailey, Tommy McMonagle, Michael Funston, Jonny Bonner, Eddie Dsane, Simon McGlynn (Barry Molloy 68), BJ Banda (Sean Houston 79), Caolan McAleer.
Cockhill Celtic: Gavin Cullen, Paul McDermott, Jason Breslin (Paul McKinney), Peter Doherty, Oisin McColgan, Gerard McLaughlin, Derek Doherty, James Bradley, Garbhan Friel, Gerry Gill, Ronan Doherty (Conor Keddy 31).
Referee: Damien McGrath.