Ciaran O'Connor of Finn Harps goes down under a challenge during Monday's game at Finn Park. Photo: Stephen Doherty.
Jesse Devers scored a spectacular late winner as Finn Harps’ brilliant run of form continued on Monday evening at Finn Park.
Finn Harps . . . 1
Galway United . . . 0
With over three minutes of injury time played and the crowd waiting on the match referee’s final whistle, Devers ran onto a sublime delivery from Harps sub Paddy McCourt and after holding off his man, his dipping volley flew in over keeper Tadhg Ryan.
It was another dramatic end to a game which was very evenly balanced throughout
And given that they were down so many first choice players against a Galway side who have been so impressive this season, this will be seen as another fine result for the Donegal side.
This was a much-changed Harps team from Friday night’s win over Drogheda United. Due to suspensions and injuries, there were a number of first choice players unavailable and Horgan gave rare starts to Lee Toland in defence, Mark Hannon in midfield and John O’Flynn up top.
There was a first team debut too for Strabane’s Niall McGinley. The teenager, who is part of the club’s U-19 side, played in midfield and he showed few nerves. He looked comfortable in possession and his eagerness to get on the ball and make a tackle will have delighted his manager.
He did well in alongside Jesse Devers who was also very lively in the early stages as Harps more than matched in-form Galway. Ciaran O’Connor had their best opening, heading a Lee Toland delivery just over the bar on 14 minutes.
Galway only managed to create a handful of opportunities in a very even first half. Carlton Ubaezuonu drew a fine diving save from Ciaran Gallagher on 22 when he stole in from the left and unleashed a fine effort on goal. And from the resultant corner, Harps were fortunate to escape when Alan Murphy volleyed off target from a good position.
But this patched-up Harps side played well in the first half and deservedly went in at the break on level terms.
Galway’s greater experience began to tell in the second half and they began to get on top in the midfield sector. They also carried the greater threat coming forward and only for a decent save from Gallagher, Eoin McCormack could have put them in front six minutes in.
Gallagher again came to Harps’ rescue just after the hour when Harps lost possession inside their own half and as Galway broke into the area, the home keeper denied Gary Shanahan with a wonderful stop. As the ball spilled clear, Lee Toland appeared to get away with a handball despite strong protests from the Galway players.
Harps introduced Mark Coyle and then Paddy McCourt from the bench and latter almost made an immediate impact, curling a free-kick just over the Galway bar.
BJ Banda was also sprung from the bench for the final ten minutes and just when it seemed this game was going to finish level, Devers showed real quality to find that winning strike.
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher, Aidan Friel, Lee Toland, Ciaran Coll, Keith Cowan, Tommy McBride, Jesse Devers, Niall McGinley (Mark Coyle 66), Ciaran O’Connor (BJ Banda 80), John O’Flynn, Mark Hannon (Paddy McCourt 76).
Galway United: Tadhg Ryan, Gary Shanahan, Maurice Nugent, Robbie Williams, Stephen Walsh, Alan Murphy, Conor Barry (Stephen Kenny 84), Conor Melody (Danny Furlong 66), Ryan Connolly, Eoin McCormack, Carlton Ubaezuounu (Conor Layng 90).
Referee: Paul McLaughlin.