Finn Harps U-19s pictured before Tuesday night's game at Finn Park. Picture: Stephen Doherty
Finn Harps U-19s bowed out of the Enda McGuill Cup when they were beaten by a very impressive St. Patrick’s Athletic in Tuesday night’s semi-final at Finn Park.
Finn Harps . . . 1
St. Patrick’s Athletic . . .3
Played in front of a big crowd, this was a very enjoyable semi-final and while Harps trailed from the fourth minute after conceding an early goal, they played well over the 90 minutes.
Indeed this was an impressive all-round display from Joe Boyle’s team against a side who are strong favourites to win this competition.
In Niall McGinley, Mark ‘Sparky’ McAteer, Michael Gallagher and Keenan Diver, they had some fine individual performers with McAteer in particular, really impressive on the left.
Harps might have beaten the likes of Derry City and Dundalk on their way to the last four, but they went into this semi-final tie as firm underdogs.
That said, they started well and striker Jamie Browne saw an early header saved by the keeper.
But St. Pat’s stole the lead early on when Harps defender Keenan Diver was unfortunate to turn the ball into his own net as he attempted to cut out Jason Grouse’s ball across goal.
To be fair to the home side, they sought an early response. An intelligent run down the left from the lively McAteer ended with his cross being headed goalwards by McGinley only for the visiting keeper Brian Maher to save again.
McGinley, who has played on several occasions for Ollie Horgan’s first team this season, caught the eye in an opening half in which Harps had plenty of the ball,
But St. Pat’s were confident in possession and they took the next opportunity that came their way on 19 minutes. Midfielder Mikey O’Keane finished off a super move, crashing the ball into the far corner from outside the box.
Joe Boyle’s side, to their credit, continued to play some decent football and they were very unlucky not to find the target on 31 minutes when Zach Gorman’s clever header set McGinley up in front of goal but his goalbound effort was blocked by a defender.
The same two players were involved again just before half time, this time Gorman denied a goal by a saving clearance after McGinley had provided the opening.
At the other end, Harps keeper Jamie Bell had to be alert to save from Cian Hughes as St. Pat’s threatened a third.
The home side needed to make a good start to the second half, but unfortunately Bell was picking the ball from his net again, just four minutes in.
Not for the first time, Grouse caused problems on the right for Harps and eventually his cross found Neil Byrne who fired in from close range.
McGinley went close again for Harps, shooting wide from a good position. St. Pat’s however, were in control and Harps didn’t enjoy anything like the kind of possession they had over the first 45 minutes.
They did however, give themselves slight hope when Liam Walsh ghosted into the box from deep and showed great composure to beat Maher at his near post on 72 minutes.
But St. Pat’s had done enough to claim victory and they’ll now meet either Limerick or Bohemians in this year’s decider.
Finn Harps: Jamie Bell, Michael Gallagher, Pat Loughrey, Ryan Finn, Keenan Diver, Liam Walsh, Zach Gorman (Darren McElwaine 86), Steven Doherty (Corrie Lee Bogan 64) , Jamie Browne, Niall McGinley, Mark McAteer.
St. Patrick’s Ath.: Brian Maher, Brien Givern, Ryan O’Shea, Joe Manley, Paul Cleary, Aaron Towney, Jason Grouse (Jake Walker 58), Ritchie O’Farrell (Mark Kelly 86), Neil Byrne (Padraig Finnerty 90), Cian Hughes, Mikey O’Keane (Conor Cowley 69).
Referee: Garvan Taggart.