Darren McElwaine was the Letterkenny Rovers hero as the men from the cathedral town came away with all three points from Finn Park on Sunday.
Rovers had the best opportunities early in the game. First, Oisin McMenamin hitting the side netting after just three minutes and Kieran Gorman firing over after Lee Toland had cleared off the line for Harps.
Indeed it was McElwaine who broke the deadlock shortly after the half hour mark. Former Harps legend Johnathan Minnock’s beautifully struck corner was headed powerfully home by the Rovers No 9.
Harps approached the second half on the front foot and got their reward a couple of minutes after the restart.
McCarron attacking from the right hand side, was expected to square the ball across, but instead twisted and turned, before finishing with precision.
The home side continued to pass the ball with aplomb but might have been guilty of trying to walk the ball into the net at times. McVeigh and McLaughlin both had opportunities, but the experienced Rovers centre backs Gorman and Kelly held the line admirably.
Harps had elected to play with three at the back and Rovers continued to prove a threat going forward. McMenamin and McMacken had chances from inside the box while Harkin and McCarron both passed up gilt edged chances for the home side.
Referee Tommy McAree deserves credit for allowing both sets of players to take on water as the temperature continued to rise during the 90 minutes.
It was that man McElwaine who got the decisive winner. Harps dithered in defence, and McElwaine poked home to the delight of the visiting support.
Indeed McElwaine could have secured a hat-trick but his header was brilliantly saved by Danny Rodgers, making his debut in the Harps goals.
But his Lee Toland , also making his debut for Harps had a great opportunity for a late equaliser, but his curling free going just over Jason Quinn’s crossbar.
Kildrum Tigers 1
Cockhill Celtic 2
James Bradley stepped off the bench to score a priceless winner in the seventh minute of stoppage time against Kildrum Tigers at St Johnston.
Bradley had only just come onto the field and, when Christy McLaughlin prodded into the box after Gerry Gill’s corner had over-run, Bradley kept his cool to steer home what could be a defining goal in this USL title race.
The League leaders had got the perfect start when Gerard McLaughlin headed home the opener in the second minute.
Lynch did well to hold a power-packed effort from McDermott and a minute later, with the game just entering its final ten minutes, Kildrum drew level when Cassidy superbly drilled home. When Liam O’Donnell cracked a volley off the post, it looked like a share of the spoils - only for sub Bradley to tear up the script.
Drumkeen United 4
Swilly Rovers 3
Drumkeen consolodated their second place in the Ulster Senior League with a 4-3 win over Swilly Rovers.
The home side started strongly when David Craig took it down the flank passed the ball to Gary Patton who squared it to Richie Moore, who fired into the bottom of the net to open the scoring on three minutes.
Swilly Rovers responded to the goal nine minutes later when a cross that was partially cleared fell to Jordan Toland who struck low into the bottom right corner from 20 yards.
Swilly won a penalty after Declan Curtis was brought down by Paul Given in the Drumkeen goal.
Declan’s younger brother Ronan stepped up to put the ball in the back of the net to put the visitors ahead 14 minutes into the game.
Drumkeen earned a free from around 25 yards which was cleverly put away quickly by Mark Marley. The closing stages of the first half was evenly fought with the teams going in level at half-time.
Ronan Curtis and his brother Blaine teamed up to put Swilly ahead on 57 minutes. On 66 minutes Keith Hegarty received a second yellow and was sent off by referee Stephen Toner.
Drumkeen got the second penalty of the game after 70 minutes, this was taken by Seamie Friel but the first effort was saved however Conor Carlin was on hand to fire the rebound into the back of the net.
Carlin was causing trouble again when his effort was saved by Gareth Wade Gavin Reilly put the rebound into the bottom corner after 75 minutes.
The closing stages were exciting with both teams coming close, but the main talking point was Coshia’s second yellow and the resulting sending off.
DPD Division 1
Swilly Rovers Res 5
Bonagee Utd Res 2
An entertaining encounter at Swilly Park served up seven goals as the Ramelton men came out on top.
Swilly were 3-1 up at the break courtesy of a fine hat-track by Kyle Black with Seamus Browne responding for the visitors.
The second half was to take the same pattern as Laurence Toland scored the goal of the game with a fine strike from 25 yards to extend the lead. Bonagee youngster Sam Murphy reduced the deficit with a fine solo effort but Daniel O’Donnell marked a fine performance with a deflected strike from 30 yards to round off a good victory.
Letterkenny Rovers 2 Drumkeen United 2
Letterkenny Rovers got back to winning ways in the Ulster Senior League First Division with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Drumkeen United.
A goal in each from influential midfielder Kevin McGrath gave Rovers all three points as they reached the half way stage of their league season.
4 Lanterns USL
Derry City v Finn Harps Thursday, 7:30pm
Swilly Rovers v Kildrum
Fanad United v Drumkeen
Letterkenny v Bonagee
DPD Division 1 Fixtures
Kildrum v Letterkenny
Drumkeen v Bonagee United