Finn Harps seal first Premier Division win of the season at the 16th attempt

Ollie Horgan’s side got the better of UCD in a battle of the bottom two in the top flight.

Finn Harps hadn't won this season before tonight (file pic).
Finn Harps hadn't won this season before tonight (file pic).
Image: Evan Logan/INPHO

Finn Harps 3

Alan Foley reports from Finn Park 

A BRILLIANT BRACE from Caolan McAleer set Finn Harps on their way to a first win of the season – at the 16th attempt – against UCD in Ballybofey tonight.

Nathan Boyle scored in-between on a night when UCD lost their seventh away fixture on the bounce and their advantage over Ollie Horgan’s side is now down to three points at the bottom of the table.

Seventeen minutes in, Keith Cowan took the ball from his defence and with time to check his options, sprayed a pass towards the right wing. McAleer cut inside Mark Dignam and curled a fantastic shot that went in off Conor Kearns’ far post.

Harps, just four minutes after McAleer’s goal, almost doubled their advantage when Daniel O’Reilly got a stooping header on Mark Russell’s cross, only to clip the inside of the post and Kearns scrambled the save.

Harps had their tails up and McAleer tried an audacious lob on the run, only to see it go narrowly over the crossbar. Russell had a lucky escape in his own penalty area when a skewed clearance flew high into the air before hitting his own crossbar on its way back down.

UCD were struggling to cope and McAleer in particular was rampant. Two minutes before the break he let fly again from distance but Kearns made a smashing fingertip save, turning the ball onto the crossbar, before Sean Boyd inexplicably stabbed the rebound into the side-netting. Nevertheless, Harps remained in front at the break.

Just 53 seconds into the second half, Boyle’s crisply struck shot across the brows of Kearns made it two. Raffaele Cretaro had found John Kavanagh, who laid the ball back into Boyle’s path.

UCD’s Gary O’Neill swerved a free-kick over the crossbar, but on 65 minutes Harps were on their way again. Tony McNamee led a break and found McAleer on the right in acres of space. Taking on the responsibility himself, McAleer smashed past Kearns.

Neil Farrugia dragged a shot just wide in the closing stages and Jason McClelland saw a pop at goal clawed away by Peter Burke at the near post on a miserable night for the visitors.

Harps are now unbeaten in three, having drawn at both Sligo Rovers and Cork City in the last eight days.

FINN HARPS: Peter Burke; Sam Todd, Keith Cowan, Daniel O’Reilly; John Kavanagh, Tony McNamee, Mark Coyle, Mark Russell (Niall Logue, 60); Sean Boyd (Raffaele Cretaro, 44), Nathan Boyle, Caolan McAleer (Mikey Place, 77).

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UCD: Conor Kearns; Daniel Tobin, Liam Scales, Josh Collins, Mark Dignam (Kevin Coffey, 66); Richie O’Farrell (Jason McClelland, 83), Paul Doyle, Gary O’Neill, Neil Farrugia; Yousef Mahdy, Conor Davis (Sean McDonald, 75).

Referee: Neil Doyle. 

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Alan Foley

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