Harps player boss Peter Hutton felt his team lacked the fight and desire that was needed if they were to deny Limerick a victory on Saturday night.
Finn Harps 1
(Coughlin 1, Guthrie 55, Behan 80)
The Derryman said that was the most disappointing aspect of the weekend defeat – his team’s first in four league outings.
“If anything, it was probably a bit of a reality check for us,” he suggested. “We didn’t start particularly well and we were caught cold with the first goal.
“We then responded well and got ourselves back into the game. Unfortunately two set pieces undid us. Limerick had a lot of possession but we felt we were okay, although in saying that we didn’t create an awful lot.
He added, “We were hit with a sucker punch with the second goal when the guy got the free header and the third goal then was just academic.
“Probably the most disappointing thing was when we went 2-1 down, we really lacked that bit of fight and desire to get back into it again which we showed last week down in Longford. Our body language wasn’t very good and that’s something we’ll have to address.”
Certainly the second half performance from Harps wasn’t good and it came after a pretty even first half at the of which the teams went in level at the break 1-1.
Harps’ recent signing, Rory Kelly marked his home debut with a fine individual display in goal but within a minute of this contest, the Buncrana man was picking the ball out of his net following the opening goal.
In fairness to Kelly, he could do little to prevent Garvin Coughlin scoring from close range in a move that saw Killybegs man, Shaun Kelly heavily involved for the visitors.
In a frantic opening period, Harps got themselves back on level terms on six minutes. Limerick keeper, David Ryan’s attempted clearance was blocked down by Kevin McHugh and while Adam Clarke took his time and allowed the keeper back onto his line, the Harps’ man’s perfectly placed shot beat Ryan into his bottom corner.
The heavy rain that fell in Ballybofey in the lead-up to kick-off left the surface extremely soft and the difficult conditions if anything added to the entertainment.
Harps played well in the first half but Limerick always looked threatening and Kelly made three important saves to keep the sides level.
Limerick continued to dominate after half time and they went back in front on 55 minutes when Shane Guthrie headed home from a corner. Then, from another set-piece situation ten minutes from time, Denis Behan’s header was adjudged to have crossed the line after the referee consulted with his assistant on the line.
In the dying minutes, Harps’ night went from bad to worse when midfielder, Thomas McBride was red carded for a challenge on Shaun Kelly.
Finn Harps: Rory Kelly, James Doherty, Ciaran Coll, Peter Hutton (Barry O’Mahony 64), Thomas McMonagle, Shaun McGowan, Adam Clarke, Thomas McBride, Tommy Bonnar (Blain Curtis 55), Kevin McHugh, Paul Simon Tracey.
Limerick: David Ryan, Shaun Kelly, Shane Tracey, Shane Guthrie, Corie Tracey, Sean Brosnan (Derek O’Brien 76), Joe Gamble, Stephen Bradley, Garvin Coughlan (Paudie Quinn 65), Denis Behan, Rory Gaffney (Gary Sheehan 89).
Referee: Darren Coombes.