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Dublin: 12°C Sunday 9 May 2021

Three Sligo goals in eight first-half minutes dent Finn Harps' hopes amid relegation danger

Liam Buckley’s Bit O’Red were 3-1 winners at The Showgrounds.

Liam Buckley celebrating with his Sligo team (file pic).
Liam Buckley celebrating with his Sligo team (file pic).
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Sligo Rovers 3

Finn Harps 1 

THREE GOALS IN eight minutes from Sligo Rovers put a dent in Finn Harps’ hopes of catching Cork City, as the Ballybofey men were comfortably beaten by their north west neighbours at The Showgrounds.

Niall Watson, Ronan Murray and Sam Warde all netted for the hosts in the first-half, inflicting a fourth consecutive league defeat on Ollie Horgan’s men.

Harry Ascroft’s late header did little to help Harps chances, Sligo were defeated by defending champions Dundalk in their last league outing, but qualified for the semi-finals of the FAI Cup for the first time since 2013 in the days prior to that defeat.

Harps, who currently sit second from bottom in the relegation play-off spot, suffered defeats in their three previous league games before travelling to The Showgrounds, but sitting seven points behind City, there was cause for the Harps faithful to believe that they could indeed escape relegation danger.

Horgan’s side were looking dangerous from the off. Striker Nathan Boyle had a good opportunity to give Harps the lead, but Regan Donelon’s challenge snuffed out the danger.

Boyle then nodded over from Mark Timlin’s cross, before the hosts settled into the game.
On 21 minutes, Watson got on the end of a Murray cross, finishing neatly past McGinley in the Harps goal.

It was 2-0 just three minutes later when Murray’s spectacular shot from the left caught Mark McGinley off guard, curling into the top corner scoring his first goal for the Bit O’Red.

ollie-horgan-dejected-after-the-game Dejection for Ollie Horgan once again. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Liam Buckley’s side were cruising, and it was 3-0 before the half hour mark when Sam Warde’s harmless looking corner seemed to trickle past everyone into the back of the net, much to the disgust of the incensed Horgan on the Harps sideline.

Horgan received his marching orders in the second-half, with Paul Hegarty taking the reins for the last 30 minutes as Horgan moved to the stand.

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There were late appeals from Harps as Sligo legend Raffaele Cretaro felt his shot was blocked by a hand, but Ben Connolly was unmoved.

There was a late surge from the Donegal men, as substitute Harry Ascroft headed past Ed McGinty from close range following Tony McNamee’s throw to make it 3-1 in injury time.

Cretaro almost made it 3-2 just seconds later when his shot appeared to smack the crossbar, although McGinty looked to have got a touch.

For the men in blue, it was too little too late, and they came away with nothing.

Sligo Rovers: Ed McGinty: Niall Morahan, John Mahon, Danny Kane, Regan Donelon (James McGrath, 83); Kris Twardek, Daryl Fordyce (Scott Lynch, 77), Sam Warde, Niall Watson, Ronan Murray; Ronan Coughlan (Brian Morley, 64).

Finn Harps: Mark McGinley; Daniel O’Reilly (Mark Coyle, 46), Jacob Borg, Keith Cowan, Sam Todd; Gareth Harkin (Harry Ascroft, 46), Mark Timlin, Raffaele Cretaro, Ruairi Harkin (Tony McNamee, 72), Mark Russell; Nathan Boyle.

Referee: Ben Connolly.

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Jessica Farry

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