Killian Cantwell, sent off in Limerick
The battle to avoid relegation from the Premier Division took another almighty twist on Friday night after Finn Harps came away with all three points from their visit to Market’s Field.
Limerick . . . 0
Finn Harps . . . 2
Once again, Finn Harps were forced to play much of the game with only ten men. This time it was defender Killian Cantwell who saw red just before half time.
But Harps survived a missed penalty and some heavy Limerick pressure to take what’s another massive three points in their quest for survival.
Tommy McBride opened the scoring for Harps shortly before the break and substitute Danny Morrissey scored the second 18 minutes from the end.
The win lifts Harps back out of the relegation zone and level on points with St. Patrick’s Athletic who were hammered 6-0 at Dundalk.
Galway United drew 1-1 at Bohs, but are now four points behind Harps with six games left to play.
Friday night’s game was the second meeting of these sides at Market’s Field in the space of six days.
Last Saturday night, Harps lost out 1-0 in the FAI Cup on a night when Caolan McAleer saw red.
That dismissal meant the midfielder was suspended for the return trip while Gareth Harkin was also banned.
Not for the first time this season, Ollie Horgan was forced to reshuffle his pack and the returning Eddie Dsane came back into the side along with Ibrahim Keita.
Limerick were the better side in the early stages with Bastien Hery and Lee J Lynch both having strikes on goal.
Shane Duggan shot narrowly wide on 22 minutes after some wonderful close control while Ciaran Gallagher did well to save from Lynch soon after.
As Harps continued to withstand the home side’s pressure, a Lynch corner was met by Peter Berki, but the striker’s effort was cleared off the line.
The Harps goal, therefore, came totally against the run of play and from an unlikely source. Tommy McBride, who has been in such good form since breaking into the side in recent weeks, opened the scoring six minutes before half-time when he followed up to score after Dsane’s effort was beaten out by keeper Clarke. .
There was further drama just before the break when Killian Cantwell, the Harps defender, was sent off in an incident which led to a Limerick penalty in first half injury time. However, Rodrigo Tosi’s effort from the spot strikes the post and the home side trailed when the half-time whistle blew.
The ten men of Harps defended resolutely in the second half and after both sides made changes, Limerick’s best chance of an equaliser came when Hery shot just over just after the hour.
But Harps then struck for the all-important second - substitute Danny Morrissey taking advantage of a defensive mistake to make it 2-0.
Letterkenny teenager Shane Blaney came on for his senior debut in the dying minutes when he replaced Dsane.
Hery struck the post for Limerick in the final minute - but it wasn’t to be their night.
Limerick: Brendan Clarke, Dave O’Connor, Barry Cotter (Henry Cameron 51), Joe Crowe, Tony Whitehead, Shane Duggan, Bastien Hery, Lee J Lynch, Chiedozie Ogbene, Peter Berki (Stephen Kenny 51), Rodrigo Tosi.
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher, Ethan Boyle, Ciaran Coll, Killian Cantwell, Damien McNulty, Tommy McBride, Mark Timlin, Paddy McCourt (Jonny Bonner 82), Sean Houston, Eddie Dsane (Shane Blaney 88), Ibrahim Keita (Danny Morrissey 51).
Referee: Thomas Connolly.