Evan Logan/INPHO Finn Harps' Babatunde Owolabi and Dundalk's Daniel Cleary.
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Dundalk and Finn Harps share the spoils in Ballybofey cracker
Tunde Owolabi bagged a brace for the hosts, with Michael Duffy and Pat Hoban on target for the Lilywhites.

Finn Harps 2

Dundalk 2

Alan Foley reports from Finn Park

FINN HARPS AND Dundalk shared the spoils in a cracking Premier Division match in Ballybofey tonight.

Tunde Owolabi’s first half-goal meant the hosts were 1-0 up at the break, only for Michael Duffy and Pat Hoban to edge the visitors into the lead just after the hour.

However, Owolabi levelled and from there on it was Ollie Horgan’s side who looked the most likely winners. Both teams in the end had to be satisfied with a point apiece with the momentum changing as much as the weather in the showery north-west.

This was the sides’ third meeting in just 15 days with Dundalk coming through an FAI Cup quarter-final replay 3-1 in extra-time following a dramatic 3-3 draw at Finn Park beforehand.

When the first goal did arrive, it was against the run of play, although wonderfully taken by Owolabi. With his back to goal, the Belgian striker took a ball in from David Webster on his thigh before swivelling and shooting right-footed across the brows of Peter Cherrie from just inside the area on 19 minutes.

From a Barry McNamee cross three minutes before the break, Owolabi, from close range, couldn’t keep his header down. Ollie Horgan’s team had improved the longer the half went on but knew they’d led Dundalk in both recent meetings and not won either

Dundalk got back on terms courtesy of a fantastic goal from Duffy from a free-kick in the 61th minute, shooting across Gerard Doherty.

Harps, still licking their wounds, went behind 90 seconds later when Hoban, who was deemed to be fouled by Shane McEleney, scored from the spot for a 2-1 Dundalk lead.

As in the cup replay last Tuesday week, Doherty was beaten by a Hoban penalty and Duffy free-kick.

However, on 69 minutes, Harps were back on terms with Owolabi again on target, for his 10th league goal of the season. Breaking into space down the Harps left and on receipt of possession from Jordan Mustoe, he cut inside and drilled a piercing drive into the bottom corner to the delight of Town End.

From then on, Harps looked the most likely with Cherrie – on his 38th birthday – saving at full stretch from Ethan Boyle and a Barry McNamee narrowly off target. With their two-goal recovery in the initial cup meeting fresh in their heads, Harps were roared on at every opportunity.

They were silenced for a second with the final play of the match. Some 95 minutes in, Duffy’s delivery was headed inches wide by Sami Ben Amar, the Dundalk substitute with the last chance of a pulsating evening.

Finn Harps: Gerard Doherty; Ethan Boyle (Adam Foley 88), Shane McEleney, David Webster, Jordan Mustoe; Ryan Rainey (Kosovar Sadiki 76), Johnny Dunleavy (Dan Hawkins 65), Ryan Connolly; Barry McNamee; Tunde Owolabi, Sean Boyd (Mark Coyle 65).

Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; Darragh Leahy, Andy Boyle, Daniel Cleary, Cameron Dummigan; Greg Sloggett, Sam Stanton; Sean Murray (Raivis Jurkovskis 69), Will Patching (Sami Ben Amar 88), Michael Duffy; Pat Hoban.

Referee: Adriano Reale.

Bernard Jackman, Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey chat all things URC and Ireland Women on the latest episode of The42 Rugby Weekly.

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