Ethan Boyle flicks Gareth Doherty's free-kick goalwards but the ball was taken off the line by a defender. Photo: Stephen Doherty.
A serious head injury sustained by Harps goalkeeper Harry Doherty meant that for many, the result of Monday night’s cup tie paled into insignificance.
Finn Harps . . .0
Sligo Rovers . . .1
In the end, it was Sligo who advanced thanks to a Matthew Stevens header which came with about five minutes of injury time remaining.
Match referee John McLaughlin played over 25 minutes of injury time following the incident in which Doherty was injured. The player was eventually taken away by ambulance to hospital following an accidental collision on the edge of his box just after the hour.
Both Doherty and defender Packie Mailey appeared to clash heads in the incident. Mailey also needed lengthy treatment but was able to walk from the pitch sporting a bandaged head-wound.
He was also taken to hospital by ambulance while in a separate incident earlier in the game, BJ Banda left the field on a stretcher after picking up a knee injury. He was also removed to hospital.
Harry Doherty was removed from the ground by ambulance after being treated on the pitch for over 25 minutes by medical personnel.
When the game eventually restarted, Harps had to continue with only ten men because by that stage of the game, they had used two substitutes.
It was during added-on time that Sligo pounced for the winner when Daniel Kearns provided the delivery from the left and Stevens powered home a header past Ciaran Gallagher.
As anticipated, both teams showed a string of changes with both camps having one eye on important league fixtures this weekend.
For Sligo, there was a start on the right of midfield for Donegal town teenager Jack Keaney and he made the most of his opportunity with a fine display.
Ollie Horgan included Gareth Doherty, Dylan McCroary, BJ Banda and Simon McGlynn from the off, although Banda’s night ended early when he was stretchered off midway through the first half. It was another worrying sight for Harps fans and only adds to the club’s worsening injury crisis.
McGlynn had Harps’ best opportunity of an opener in an even first half. He ran onto a through ball but shot just wide of Shaun Patton’s goal.
Doherty was involved in the home side’s other good moment of the half when his free-kick was flicked goalwards by Ethan Boyle but his effort was cleared off the line.
Sligo, playing under caretaker boss Declan McIntyre, could also have gone in front but following Keaney’s cushioned header, John Mahon’s goalbound effort struck a defender and was cleared.
Sligo probably shaded the early stages of the second half with Chris Kenny and John Mahon both going close.
But then came the nasty collision involving Doherty and Mailey as the goalkeeper bravely came to try and head clear from outside his box as Sligo broke clear.
In the long period of added-on time, Sligo eventually made the breakthrough through Stevens, and as a result, they advance to the quarter-finals.
Finn Harps: Harry Doherty (Ciaran Gallagher 96), Damien McNulty, Ciaran Coll (Ciaran Kelly 45), Tommy McMonagle, Packie Mailey, Gareth Doherty, Dylan McCroary, Ethan Boyle, BJ Banda (Kealan McDermott 29), Simon McGlynn, Michael Funston.
Sligo Rovers: Shaun Patton, Tobi Adebayo-Rowling, Paul Doyle, John Mahon,
Kyle Callan McFadden, Daniel Kearns, Craig Rodden, Jack Keaney, Matthew Stevens, Chris Kenny, Regan Donelon (Kieran Sadlier 96).
Referee: John McLaughlin.