LEAGUE OF IRELAND

Michael O'Connor strike sees off Wexford

Harps grind out a win to maintain good start to campaign

Diarmaid Doherty

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Diarmaid Doherty

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Sport@donegaldemocrat.com

Finn Harps v Wexford

Ciaran Coll of Finn Harps challenges for possession against Wexford on Friday night. Photo: Stephen Doherty.

Finn Harps’ good start to the new season continued on Friday when they got the better of Wexford at Finn Park.


Finn Harps . . . .1

Wexford Youths . . . 0

In a dour encounter, Michael O’Connor’s goal midway through the second half gave Ollie Horgan’s side the points.

The on-loan striker pounced to finish after his brother Ciaran created the opening with a wonderful run and cross from the left.

Harps just about deserved the three points, even if they weren’t at their best.

They played almost the entire second half with an extra man after the sending off of Wexford defender Owen McCormick on 48.

But for all their possession, Harps found it difficult to create many decent openings as Wexford defended in numbers for much of the contest.

The visitors’ defensive approach was hardly surprising given that they had conceded eight goals in their defeat to Drogheda United last week.

Offensively, they offered little threat, especially in the second half which was totally one-sided.

Jesse Devers replaced the injured Paddy McCourt in the only change in the Harps side from their win in Cobh.

Devers, playing in midfield, started well as Harps opened the brighter, although they took a while to create any clear-cut chances.

When they did manage to open up the Wexford defence, Devers was involved - his dangerous  run ending with a neat lay-off to Mark Coyle but his goalbound effort from 15 yards was blocked by a defender.

Wexford managed to soak up whatever pressure Harps generated and as they began to string some possession together, they had a couple of decent moments of their own.

They will feel they should have been in front when midfielder Chris Kenny was presented with a free header in front of goal but as he rose to meet Sean Hurley’s inswinging free kick, he directed his effort well wide of the target.

Harps did up the tempo again in the closing stages of the half and Deevers was just beaten in a race for possession with the goalkeeper Kealan Gaffney while Ciaran Coll was unlucky to see his header from a Mark Timlin corner bounce wide of the post.

But Harps lacked a bit of quality in the final third and Wexford deservedly went in at half time on level terms.

The visitors however, suffered an early blow in the second half when they were reduced to ten men on 48 minutes. Owen McCormick was shown a straight red card after apparently kicking out at Harps’ Ciaran O’Connor just after the ball went out for a throw-in.

Wexford reshuffled their pack and pulled midfielder Danny Doyle back in as emergency centre-half. And the Wexford defence was quickly put under pressure. With Mark Coyle and then Ciaran Coll both working the goalkeeper after separate penetrating runs into the area.

As the half wore on and with the opposition packing out their defence, Harps were camped inside the Wexford half.

And they eventually made the breakthrough on 68 minutes when Ciaran O’Connor was released down the left flank after being spotted by his keeper Ciaran Gallagher. O’Connor made his way into the Wexford half  and his inviting cross found Michael O’Connor who took a touch before steering the ball in past keeper Gaffney.

It was a quality finish from O’Connor - his third goal for Harps this season.

And as it turned out, it was enough to bag a second league win of the season for a Harps team who climb to fourth in the table.

Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher, Mark Coyle, Ciaran Coll, Keith Cowan, Sam Todd, Tommy McBride, Mark Timlin, Jesse Devers (Aidan Friel 79), Michael O’Connor, John O’Flynn (Adam Duffy 71), Ciaran O’Connor (Lee Toland 89).

Wexford Youths: Kealan Gaffney, Aidan Lehane, Sean Hurley, Ross Kenny, Owen McCormack, Mikey Byrne, Liam McCartan, Thomas Croke (Dean Kelly 80), Chris Kenny, Danny Doyle (Shane Barnes 80), John Morgan (Owen Wall 80).

Referee: David Dunne.