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Dublin: 14 °C Saturday 20 April, 2019
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Derry City bag two goals at the death to snatch derby victory over Finn Harps

Goals from Darren Cole and Aaron McEneff meant there was a sting in the tail in Ballybofey.

Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Finn Harps 0
Derry City 2

Alan Foley reports from Finn Park

JUST WHEN IT seemed like a scoreless draw would send everyone home reasonably happy, Derry City twice at the bitter end to seal what was in the end a dramatic derby victory at Finn Harps.

A point apiece wouldn’t have been the worst result for both parties, with Ollie Horgan’s side about to edge three points ahead of the dropzone, whilst still possessing a game in hand on all those below them in the Premier Division table.

However, goals from Darren Cole and Aaron McEneff meant there was a sting in the tail in Ballybofey in what was until then, an evenly-matched encounter, without ever catching fire. Derry’s little bit of extra class won the points in the end.

For Derry, the away win means they’re back in third place, ahead of Shamrock Rovers who overcame Dundalk at the weekend.

It was still 0-0 on 87 minutes but Harps failed to deal with a corner from Nicky Low and with nobody taking responsibility, the ball broke to Cole who smashed home from 10 yards.

Then, in the third minute of stoppage time, with Harps going for broke, Rory Patterson got on the ball and set Aaron McEneff free. Faced with Ciaran Gallagher, McEneff was composed enough to round the obstacle of the Harps goalkeeper and tuck into the empty net.

The loss will be a bitter pill for the home support among the 2,896 in attendance. There was little between the teams until the very end.

A quickly-taken Harps free-kick from Sean Houston presented a seventh-minute half-chance for Caolan McAleer, only for City goalkeeper Gerard Doherty to race from his line to save.

The closest either side came to a first half opener was when Eoin Toal – on his first appearance for the Candystripes – looped a header onto the Harps crossbar with Gallagher frantically backpedalling after a corner from Low.

Although Harps – minus the suspended Paddy McCourt – shaded the opening exchanges, Derry went closest with the majority of the remainder of the first half opportunities, the best of them being when Patterson’s close-range volley was beaten away by Gallagher.

Two minutes before half-time though, Houston freed himself in the Derry box and planted a free header just wide from McAleer’s delivery. It was a moment in which you could hear the collective sighs from both sets of supporters; both for different reasons of course.

Derry’s Austrian winger Lukas Schubert, on 63 minutes, just got under a cross from Low, who’d found himself in a corridor of opportunity down the left having got the better of Damien McNulty.

Moments after his 66th minute introduction, teenager BJ Banda, whose goal won the promotion-relegation play-off in 2015 for Harps against Limerick FC, was denied by a brave block from Dean Jarvis in front of Doherty’s goal.

However, it wasn’t finished at that and Derry’s late late show meant derby delight for Kenny Shiels’ team.

Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher; Damien McNulty, Kilian Cantwell, Packie Mailey, Ciaran Coll; Caolan McAleer, Ethan Boyle, Gareth Harkin, Eddie Dsane (Jonny Bonner 77); Sean Houston; Ibrahim Keita (BJ Banda 66).
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Conor McDermott, Eoin Toal, Darren Cole, Dean Jarvis; Aaron McEneff, Barry McNamee, Nicky Low; Lukas Schubert (Nathan Boyle 72), Rory Patterson, Joshua Daniels (Ben Doherty 77).
Referee: Ray Matthews

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Alan Foley

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