Finn Harps manager, Ollie Horgan
On-loan defender Sam Todd was the match winner as Finn Harps scrambled a much-needed victory over Cabinteely at Finn Park on Friday night.
Finn Harps . . . 1
Cabinteely FC . . . 0
The centre half, up for a Mark Timlin corner seven minutes from time, forced the ball over the line after BJ Banda’s initial effort was blocked.
It was enough to give Harps the points in a closely fought encounter. Cabinteely looked to have done enough to deny the Donegal side the points until Todd popped up with that late, late winner.
Despite their 3-2 defeat at UCD last Friday night, Harps manager Ollie Horgan had praised his team’s performance at the Belfield Bowl and unusually, he stuck with the same starting eleven for this one.
It meant Mark Coyle partnered Paddy McCourt again at centre midfield and the pair were both very industrious in the opening stages of this game as Harps sought a good start.
But Cabinteely, fresh from their good win over Shelbourne last weekend, are a well organised outfit and enjoyed plenty of early possession of their own early on, without really threatening in attack.
Indeed, in a close contest, neither side offered much in the way of efforts on goal. The one time Harps did manage to get in behind the visiting defence, Aidan Friel had time to pick out a team-mate in front of goal, but completely messed up his delivery.
Soon after Mark Timlin produced a brilliant piece of skill to work an opening outside the box, but then saw his effort struck straight at a defender. Those incidents were typical of a first half in which for all their effort and endeavour, Harps lacked that bit of quality and inventiveness in the final third.
Cabinteely’s one and only effort on goal in the first half came from Eoin Stokes who should have done better when picked out by Karl Byrne’s delivery, but from in front of goal, Stokes’ could only divert his shot wide.
Two minutes into the second half, the home side had another fortunate escape. This time wideman Dean Casey took pounced on some sloppy play just inside the Harps half and after racing forward, he unleashed a fantastic effort on goal which beat Ciaran Gallagher but came back off the post.
A minute later, the same player was involved again - his effort from just outside the box going just wide.
Harps made an early change in the second half with BJ Banda introduced in place of Jesse Devers on 55 minutes. But still the Cabinteely defence held firm and the home side continued to search for a way through to goal, Ciaran O’Connor was introduced in place of McCourt on 71 and within a minute Harps won a corner which ended with Keith Cowan turning the ball back across goal but unfortunately, there was nobody in a blue shirt able to force it home.
Harps were enjoying another good spell and their pressure almost paid dividends 12 minutes from the finish when Ciaran O’Connor set up Banda but with just the keeper to beat from 10 yards, the striker’s effort screwed horribly wide of the target.
But Banda was involved again on 83 minutes when from a Timlin corner the substitute saw his shot blocked but Todd was on hand to knock the ball over the line.
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher, Aidan Friel (John O’Flynn 81), Ciaran Coll, Keith Cowan, Sam Todd, Tommy McBride, Jesse Devers (BJ Banda 55), Paddy McCourt (Ciaran O’Connor 71), Michael O’Connor, Mark Coyle, Mark Timlin.
Cabinteely FC: Sean Hyland, Karl Byrne, Kevin Knight, Kieran Butler, Conor Keeley, Andy O’Reilly, Joe Doyle, Jack Watson (Aaron Robinson 84), Eoin Stokes (Kaleen Simon 89), Kieran Waters, Dean Casey (Stephen Ball 81).
Referee: Marc Lynch.