McCourt's class helps Finn Harps to victory over Drogheda

Ollie Horgan's side come from behind to win

Diarmaid Doherty


Diarmaid Doherty



Harps v Drogheda

Mark Timlin on the attack for Finn Harps against Drogheda United at Finn Park. Photo: Stephen Doherty

Finn Harps came from behind to inflict a surprise defeat on high-flying Drogheda United as Paddy McCourt stole the show in Ballybofey

Finn Harps . . . 2

Drogheda United . . . 1

The midfielder came off the bench at half time and only managed 25 minutes of action before injury forced him off again on 70 minutes.

But in that short space of time he showed flashes of his class and quality and set up the two Harps goals as the game was turned on its head.

The home side had been totally outplayed in a one-sided first half. But McCourt’s introduction changed the game completely with Keith Cowan heading an equaliser on 54 before Ciaran O’Connor struck the winner ten minutes later.

It’s now three wins on the trot for Harps who made a few changes from the team that won in Longford last weekend.

Horgan had indicated that Mark Timlin wouldn’t play a part in this game after suffering a hamstring injury in the warm-up ahead of that game. But the Buncrana man recovered in time to take his place in a patched-up side that also included BJ Banda and Ciaran O’Connor.

Drogheda, going well in second place in the table, were the better side in the early stages and were almost in front after only five minutes when Lee Duffy’s effort deflected up and over Ciaran Gallagher and onto the top of the crossbar.

Mark Coyle played in Ciaran O’Connor as Harps forced their first opening of the evening but as he bore down on goal, O’Connor took a heavy touch and keeper Paul Skinner was able to save.

But that early chance was to prove the team’s one and only real opportunity to force a goal in a half that was dominated by the visitors.

Harps had their hands full with the lively Duffy and striker Chris Lyons causing plenty of problems and it was the hard-working Lyons who won the free which led to Drogheda’s opening goal on 25 minutes. Few in the crowd expected Brennan to go for goal with the free from wide on left, but his effort from distance bent in past the despairing dive of Gallagher.

It was no more than Drogheda deserved and Gallagher saved well from Duffy to deny them a second soon after.

Harps just couldn’t get going and they could count themselves to be fortunate to be only trailing by a goal when referee Thomas Dempsey blew for half-time.

Horgan introduced Jesse Devers and Paddy McCourt in place of Banda and Aidan Friel for the second half.

McCourt’s impact was instant. He won a free kick in a dangerous position on 53 minutes which he took himself and his delivery was powered in off the head of Keith Cowan.

The equaliser was just what Harps needed and suddenly Drogheda were in a game. Ciaran O’Connor squandered a glorious chance to add a second when shooting wastefully wide with only the keeper to beat.

But O’Connor made up for that miss with a brilliant finish to make it 2-1 on 64. McCourt delivered a wonderful pass to pick out Devers and his lay-off to O’Connor left the striker in on goal and he found the bottom corner.

Drogheda pressed for an equaliser and Lyons was just wide late on. But Harps held out for another valuable three points.

Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher, Aidan Friel (Jesse Devers 45), Ciaran Coll, Keith Cowan, Sam Todd, Tommy McBride, Mark Coyle, Ciaran O’Connor BJ Banda (Paddy McCourt 45 (Lee Toland 70), Michael O’Connor, Mark Timlin.

Drogheda United: Paul Skinner, Colm Deasy, Conor Kane, Kevin Farragher (Gareth McCaffrey 75), Ciaran Kelly, Jake Hyland, Lee Duffy (Stephen Meaney 75), Richie Purdy,  Sean Brennan, Chris Lyons, Mark Doyle.

Referee:Thomas Dempsey