BE PART OF THE TEAM

Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership

Become A Member
Dublin: 7°C Tuesday 20 April 2021
Advertisement

Nerve-racking finish, as Finn Harps stun Waterford to secure survival

Ollie Horgan’s team needed a win to have any chance of avoiding the promotion-relegation play-off.

Finn Harps' Gareth Harkin, Mark Coyle and David Webster celebrate staying in the Premier Division.
Finn Harps' Gareth Harkin, Mark Coyle and David Webster celebrate staying in the Premier Division.
Image: Evan Logan/INPHO

Finn Harps 1

Waterford 0

Alan Foley reports from Finn Park

IN WHAT might be termed a battle of the needs and wants, it was Finn Harps who battled their way to safety with a narrow win over Waterford FC on the final day of an eventful SSE Airtricity League Premier Division.

But it was close. In the 95th minute and with his team 1-0 up, Harps goalkeeper Mark Anthony McGinley fumbled the ball and Kurtis Byrne, the Waterford substitute somehow saw Dave Webster block his effort on the line with the goal yawning at his mercy.

Ollie Horgan’s team needed a win to have any chance of avoiding the promotion-relegation play-off with Longford Town lying in wait, with mobile phones Flashscoring the plights of Shelbourne and Derry City, one of which had to lose.

As it turned out, league champions Shamrock Rovers’ 2-0 victory at Tolka Park and an Adam Foley goal at Finn Park rounded off the season to leave Harps safe and Shelbourne walking to the creaking plank.

Harps knew for the entirety of the second half their fate was in their hands, although that only made it slightly more bearable for the scattered few masked attendees.

Waterford, on the other hand, wanted victory, which would possibly elevate them into the top three and European football. This gave the side, managed by Fran Rockett, something to chase and harry for till the bitter end. As it turned out, fifth it is. Had Byrne scored, they would’ve missed out on fourth on goal difference to Sligo Rovers.

Foley’s goal was a tap-in from six yards on 27 minutes, with the final touch coming off Niall O’Keeffe following a centre by Barry McNamee, who was set free by Austrian striker Alexander Kogler down the right.

Harps had McGinley to thank for keeping their sheet clean on a mucky night. The goalkeeper stayed big to stop from Matty Smith, who broke through unattended.

John Martin, on 37 minutes, showed neat close control. Firstly, to get away from McNamee and slipping a defensive line so straight you could’ve put a spirit level on it. Martin got in on McGinley only to shoot inches wide of the post, so close a cheer went up from those on Rockett’s bench, thinking it was in.

Be part
of the team

Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership.

Become a Member

Jack Byrne’s goal for Shamrock Rovers at Shelbourne meant at half-time, Harps were safe as it stood, with Waterford knowing if they could turn it around and Sligo held onto the lead in Dundalk, third-place finish was obtainable.

With the league champions the only team to overcome Harps in their previous seven fixtures, there was form there for the locals.

McNamee, four minutes into the second half showed that confidence to work an angle and draw a fine save from Murphy at full stretch. Not to be outdone, moments later, Waterford caused a nervous moment for the home team when O’Keeffe was just wide with a shot.

Smith got a shot off in the Harps area to draw another McGinley save before going down in the vicinity of Mark Russell amid penalty appeals.

Midway through the second half, Harps came within inches of a second. Stephen Folan’s deep cross was met by a looping header by Webster and the ball rebounded down off the crossbar where Martin blocked from Foley in front of goal.

Harps managed to hold on. Just.

Finn Harps: Mark Anthony McGinley; Shane McEleney (Mark Coyle 73), Kosovar Sadiki, Stephen Folan; Dave Webster, Ryan Connolly, Gareth Harkin, Barry McNamee, Mark Russell; Adam Foley (Sam Todd 80), Alexander Kogler (Raff Cretaro 56).

Waterford FC: Brian Murphy; Darragh Power (Shane Griffin 60), Jake Davidson, Robbie Weir, Tyreke Wilson (Will Longbottom 90); Robbie McCourt, Niall O’Keefe (Will Fitzgerald 67), Ali Coote (Kurtis Byrne 90); John Martin (Dean Walsh 90), Daryl Murphy, Matty Smith.

Referee: Paul McLaughlin

About the author:

Alan Foley

Read next:

COMMENTS (5)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel