There was an incident 18 minutes from time in the meeting of Finn Harps and Cobh Ramblers that summed up the Ballybofey side’s quandary.
Finn Harps 2
Cobh Ramblers 2
Manager Peter Hutton noted in the week that teams on bad runs generally aren’t too plush on fortune. Harps lost all four of their previous outings and squandered a 2-0 lead.
Chasing the win, Hutton made his second substitution with Thomas McBride coming on for Mark Forker.
McBride hadn’t even broken sweat before Hutton was joined on the sideline by both the hamstrung Michael Funston and Thomas McMonagle, who had aggravated a foot injury chasing a lost cause.
Hutton threw Gary Merritt on for Funston, while the hobbling McMonagle, with no substitutions left, had to be relocated to centre-forward.
A large part of Harps’ frustration was the way they opened the door. Goals from Keith Cowan and Funston gave the hosts a 2-0 lead inside of the half-hour in an open first half but one in which Ciaran Gallagher, to that point, was seldom troubled.
Martin Deady pulled one back for Cobh, though, and halfway through the second half, Dynan Rocks scored a terrific equaliser.
Seventeen-year-old Rocks headed off on a diagonal run across the front of the Harps defence and his finish across the brows of a fully stretched Gallagher was unerring from the angle of the penalty area.
Hutton said during the week that his team’s need for a win was so desperate; he’d be prepared to take an ugly one.
An ugly draw would’ve had to do but he was presumably reasonably content with the start they produced.
Sean McCarron started in lively fashion but Shane Hallahan in the Cobh goal wasn’t tested initially. At the other end, Rocks’ pace was causing a little consternation for Cowan and Aaron O’Hagan.
Cowan, who had been on the scoresheet in each of Harps’ last two home games against Wexford Youths and Athlone Town, made it three from three on 17 minutes.
The central defender peeled off following a free-kick from Funston and looped a header back past Hallahan.
That goal seemed to settle Harps and 10 minutes later, they produced a stunning second when Funston, loitering on the right flank away from the posse, was found by Kevin McHugh.
Funston controlled with his chest and excellently volleyed across Hallahan. Harps, it seemed, were flying.
Cobh were stunned at that stage but managed to steady themselves instantly.
Harps were still celebrating their second when their
lead was halved. Davin O’Neill stole into an avenue on the right and his centre was steered past Gallagher first time by Deady. Harps appealed in vain for offside.
With the hosts 2-1 up at half-time, the second period was only in its infancy when O’Neill came within a whisker of paint of levelling the score.
From a right-footed free-kick on the edge of the penalty area, O’Neill clunked Gallagher’s crossbar.
Harps’ confidence levels have been low of late and sitting on a precarious one-goal lead brought with it a few fraught moments.
Rocks’ goal made those fears real and although Harps tried to restore the lead, their scattered self-assurance meant it wasn’t to arrive.
Tommy Bonnar’s shot in the last minute of stoppage time, bravely blocked to John Meade, summed up their frustrating evening.
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher; James Doherty, Keith Cowan, Aaron O’Hagan, Thomas McMonagle; Michael Funston (Gary Merritt 76), Thomas Bonnar, Mark Forker (Thomas McBride 72), Ciaran Coll; Kevin McHugh, Sean McCarron (Paul McVeigh 67).
Cobh Ramblers: Shane Hallahan; Adam Thompson, John Meade, Sean O’Mahoney, Andrew Bhrndarker; Alan O’Flynn (Jonathan Spillane 68), Roy Kenny, James Carson Martin Deady; Kynan Rocks (Keith O’Flynn 9), Davin O’Neill.
Referee: Robert Harvey.