Keena double helps Sligo secure north-west derby win over Finn Harps

The Mullingar-man scored twice as Sligo Rovers got new boss John Russell’s tenure off to a dream start.

Rovers' Niall Morahan and Harps' Rob Slevin.
Rovers' Niall Morahan and Harps' Rob Slevin.
Image: Evan Logan/INPHO



Jessica Farry reports from The Showgrounds

The John Russell era got off to the perfect start at The Showgrounds as his Bit O’Red side comfortably beat Finn Harps 3-0.

Rovers went 2-0 up after six minutes, and added a third late on to seal all three points in what was a solid performance to see them move back to fifth place.

It’s all change at The Showgrounds as Sligo Rovers appointed John Russell as manager over the mid-season break.

Russell took charge as interim manager for two games before the mid-season break, and was appointed manager following what the club called a ‘rigorous’ selection process.

john-russell New Sligo boss, John Russell. Source: Evan Logan/INPHO

Russell’s first game in charge saw him pitted against a Finn Harps side who had won just one game away from home so far this season.

Ollie Horgan’s side are desperate for points, and would have travelled to The Showgrounds eager to turn their season around, starting tonight.

The hosts have dropped to sixth following Friday night’s games, and Russell would be hopeful that his side would continue a push towards the European places.

Russell made three changes to his side from their last game, a 1-1 draw with UCD before the break. Adam McDonnell and Greg Bolger were suspended, while Colm Horgan missed out.

Max Mata, Lewis Banks and David Cawley all came into the team.

Ollie Horgan made two changes from the side that drew with Derry City. Bastien Hery and Ryan Connolly missed out through suspension, while Barry McNamee and Yoyo Mahdy came into the team.

The hosts sprung into action, and were two goals ahead with just seven minutes played, giving Harps no time to get settled.

A cross from Karl O’Sullivan looked relatively harmless, but it was cleared into the path of Keena who fired past McGinley in the Harps goals to put his side ahead.

Seconds later, Rovers doubled their lead. A diagonal pass from Shane Blaney appeared to be falling nicely for McGinley, but Karl O’Sullivan burst through to take it away from McGinley, tucking his shot between the posts.

Rovers were singing, and Harps were reeling after a disastrous start. 

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Eric McWoods forced a save from McGinty after he worked his way past Blaney, while a Paddy Kirk was causing constant problems for the Harps rearguard who just did enough to keep the score at 2-0 going into the half-time break.

Harps grew into the game as the half wore on, but they still had a lot of work to do in the second-half.

While Harps saw more of the ball in the second-half, they rarely troubled Ed McGinty in the Rovers goals, although the introduction of new signing Dylan Duncan did add to their attack after the break.

Max Mata and Aidan Keena almost extended Rovers’ lead, but were unable to keep their efforts on target.

While Harps continued to knock at the door, they were undone again with minutes left on the clock.

O’Sullivan found Keena with a superb ball, and the Mullingar native made no mistake, tucking his effort past McGinley to round off a positive night for the Bit O’Red.

Sligo Rovers: Ed McGinty, Lewis Banks, Shane Blaney, Garry Buckley (Nando Pijnaker, 46), Paddy Kirk, Karl O’Sullivan, David Cawley (Kailin Barlow, 80), Niall Morahan, Will Fitzgerald, Max Mata (Seamas Keogh, 69), Aidan Keena.

Finn Harps: Mark McGinley, Jose Carrillo, Ethan Boyle, Conor Tourish, Rob Slevin, Regan Donelon (Mark Timlin, 79), Ryan Rainey, Barry McNamee, Yoyo Mahdy (Dylan Duncan, 46), Eric McWoods, Filip Mihaljevic (Luke Rudden, 82).
Referee: Damien McGraith.

About the author:

Jessica Farry

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