Ollie Horgan gave a typically frank assessment of his Finn Harps team’s 1-1 draw with Wexford Youths in the SSE Airtricity League First Division on Friday night.
When the lights went out at Finn Park, the Harps manager appeared for the post-match interviews and although it was an irritable game on occasion, he was still reasonably content to see his 10 men fight back to draw thanks to a late Ruairí Keating penalty.
Harps played for 47 minutes minus the services of Keith Cowan, who had been given a straight red card after poking a finger in the face of Danny Furlong, who had also raised his hands but walked free.
“I don’t think anyone came out of it with any favours,” Horgan said of the incident. “Keith Cowan did raise his hands and he should know better. I spoke to him in there and he left us in a little bit of trouble.
“He’s an experienced lad who was playing his best game of the season. I think there was a little bit of drama from Danny Furlong. He threw himself to the ground.
“I know Danny. He’s a good lad. If one of our lads had’ve done that I would be disappointed as well. I’m not condoning what Keith did in any manner. He let us down there and men had to dig us out. But at the same time it’s a man’s game.”
The decision, Horgan felt, had a huge impact on the match. From a sprightly first half that showed enough to suggest Harps were laying the foundations for a win, the home support had to be content with a draw.
“It was frustrating enough but at the same time we’ve got something out of it and we’re happy enough,” Horgan said. “We responded to going a goal down - albeit with 10 men - and showed a bit of character.
“Look, we got away with it. Let’s put it that way. Mind you, up to the sending off we might’ve been looking at all three points. We were strong, dealt with their aerial threat quite well, we had a goal disallowed. We’d two or three chances. The sending off changed the game completely.”
It was the second time on the night Cowan and match referee Ben Connolly had been the centre of attention. Just 10 minutes beforehand, on 33 minutes, Conolly had denied Harps the lead goal when he deemed Cowan to be leaning in as he headed past goalkeeper Danny Graham.
“I felt Keith jumped with his hands down but then again that’s from me at the halfway line in the dugout,” Horgan said, diplomatically. “The referee had a clearer view and gave a free out.
“If we had’ve broken them down at that stage I felt we might’ve gone on and won it. I’d say it was probably our best half of football this season so far.”
All in all, a bit like Harps’ preceding home fixture against Galway FC 13 nights’ beforehand, Horgan’s team showed commendable battle to gain at least a share of the spoils.
It was said after that fixture against Galway it was a point take from a fixture Harps would’ve, in all likelihood, lost in previous seasons. The same could be said for Wexford.
“We made switches when we were 1-0 down and it’s easy to do that then,” Horgan continued. “We sat in at the start of the second half and tried to hit them on the break. We didn’t get men up to support Ruairí Keating and it wasn’t working. We were giving the ball back to them.
“We went three at the back and look, it worked tonight. But on another night we could easily have conceded a second. Then we’d be saying it was a terrible change.
“Look, the positives - in the first 40 minutes we played the best football we had all season and if we build on that, who knows? But we’ve Longford next week and they’re the top team in the league. They’ve the top budget and top players and it’ll be a different battle altogether. They’ve quality.
“Every game is a battle. If we can stay in every game right up till the final whistle then I’d be happy. They don’t get any easier. There’s no game you can take for granted. It’s hard going at times. The little lack of discipline takes its toll but hopefully we’ll stop that. But with a man down and then a goal down we’d have taken a draw for sure.”