FINN HARPS V SLIGO ROVERS: McCabe wins it at the death for Sligo

Night of high drama in Ballybofey

Diarmaid Doherty


Diarmaid Doherty



Harps v Sligo

Ethan Boyle gets in a cross during Saturday night's game in Finn Park. Photo: Thomas Gallagher.

Rhys McCabe struck a 90th minute winner to give Sligo the points on a night of high drama in Ballybofey.

Finn Harps . . .1

Sligo Rovers . . . . 2

Rovers held a 1-0 lead from the 16th minute and looked to on their way to the win before Paddy McCourt drew Harps level on 82 minutes.

The midfielder went on one of his famous mazy dribbles which saw him go past two or three challenges before he slipped the ball past keeper Shaun Patton and into the bottom corner.

It was a goal to savour and it looked enough to have earned Harps a share of the spoils.

But much to the delight of the visiting supporters, McCabe broke clear on 90 minutes and fired past Ciaran Gallagher for the winner.

It means Sligo move ahead of Harps who themselves, drop back into the relegation zone.

And after Galway’s win over Derry on Friday night, the situation at the bottom end of the Premier Division has shown significant change yet again.

Given the close battle to avoid the drop, this was always going to be a big game and it drew one of the biggest home gates of the season.

Caolan McAleer returned from suspension for Harps who also included injury doubt Paddy McCourt in midfield.

Sligo, with four players suspended, were dealt a double blow prior to kick-off when goalkeeper Michael Schlingermann (neck injury)  and defender Tobi Adebayo Rowling (muscle injury) were unable to make the starting eleven.

It meant there was a rare start in goal for former Harps keeper Shaun Patton. But despite a bright opening from the home side, Patton didn’t have all that much to do in the opening stages.

And after being under pressure for the opening period, Sligo broke and struck for the opening goal on 16 minutes when Rhys McCabe crossed from the right and Vinny Faherty’s glancing header beat Ciaran Gallagher.

It was a wonderful finish from Faherty and along with his strike partner,. Greg Moorhouse, they caused the Harps back-line plenty of problems in that first half.

The heavy underfoot conditions added to the intensity of a game that was played in a cup-tie atmosphere. Harps, after falling behind, really struggled to find any rhythm to their game and if anything, Sligo looked the team most likely to score again.

Faherty shot over and Christopher Kenny saw his shot cleared off the line following a corner.

Harps almost drew level before half time when Sean Houston’s shot drifted just wide of the post.

If Sligo carried a threat in the first half, they more or less shut up shop in the second, content it seemed to hang on to their one goal advantage.

Donegal town teenager Jack Keaney came on at half time for the injured Moorhouse as Sligo went with an extra man in midfield.

Harps, needing a good start to the second half, took the game to their opponents, but Sligo continued to look comfortable at the back.

Patton was able to deal with a couple of long range efforts, and he was alert to dive away to his left and beat away Caolan McAleer’s effort shortly after the hour.

But he was eventually beaten by the genius of McCourt on 82 minutes.

Sligo though, still managed to find a response of their own with McCabe striking at the death.

Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher, Ethan Boyle, Gareth Harkin (Jonny Bonner 72), Damien McNulty, Ciaran Coll, Caolan McAleer, Paddy McCourt, Sean Houston, Tommy McBride (Danny Morrissey 57), Eddie Dsane (ibrahim Keita 84), Mark Timlin.

Sligo Rovers: Shaun Patton, Gary Boylan, Regan Donnellon, Seamus Sharkey, Kyle Callan McFadden, Christopher Kenny, Jimmy McDonagh (Benny Igiehon 72), Daniel Kearns (Omar Houghton 88), Rhys McCabe, Vinny Faherty, Greg Moorhouse (Jack Keaney 45).

Referee: Thomas Connolly.