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Dublin: 6 °C Thursday 14 November, 2019

Walker's 83rd-minute strike breaks Harps hearts as St Pat's snatch victory late on

Harry Kenny’s side secured all three points with a dramatic late winner to break Finn Harps’ hearts in Inchicore.

Jake Walker was the match-winner for St Pat's at Richmond Park.
Jake Walker was the match-winner for St Pat's at Richmond Park.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

St Patrick’s Athletic 1

Finn Harps 0

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC snatched a dramatic late win right at the death against Finn Harps on Friday night thanks to a well-taken finish from academy prospect Jake Walker in the 83rd minute.

Harry Kenny’s men looked on their way to a third consecutive draw during a frustrating and dogged affair at Richmond Park, before Walker was introduced off the bench to clinch all three points and reignite the Saints’ battle for a top four finish this season with just their second win in nine games.

This was the last time Saints supporters would see their men in action before the brief mid-season break — fans’ departing Richmond Park excited at the prospect of Tuesday’s Europa League draw in Nyon which will see St Pat’s compete in Europe for the first time in three years.

Ollie Horgan will have been immensely proud of his side’s display during a tense, stop-start affair where Daniel O’Reilly and Keith Cowan brilliantly led Harps’ backline to shut out Mikey Drennan, Gary Shaw & Co out time after time while being pinned inside their own half for large passages of play.

Nathan Boyle with Ciaran Kelly Nathan Boyle with Ciaran Kelly at Richmond Park on Friday night. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

They succeeded in limiting St Pat’s to half-chances during the opening 45 minutes; chances which goalkeeper Mark McGinley kept under wraps despite a nervous start to the first half by the side from Ballybofey.

The former Donegal inter-county shot-stopper was at fault with just two minutes on the clock. McGinley horribly fumbled a Simon Madden cross into the box, causing panic inside his penalty area as three rapid, low shots from captain Ian Bermingham, Drennan and Shaw were all heroically blocked down in dramatic fashion.

That was as close as Kenny’s side would come to breaking the deadlock during an arresting opening 45 minutes. Harps spent the majority of the first half trying to keep their opponents at bay, but really should have went ahead at the other end via Nathan Boyle.

A wonderful, threaded through ball from Raffaele Cretaro set Boyle on his way racing through on goal. With only Brendan Clarke to beat, the Harps striker tried to round the goalkeeper, but Clarke kept his composure to race from his line and claw the ball away with his feet.

Drennan, with six goals to his name so far this season, almost found his seventh a few moments later with a powerful header which flew right into the arms of McGinley standing on his line. His opposing number nine Boyle came close again just before the break, firing a volley narrowly over the crossbar.

A much more lively second half display saw St Pat’s knock on the door consistently trying to go ahead, but just like the previous 45 minutes which preceded it no man in red and white or illuminous yellow could find that little bit of quality to snatch all three points right until Walker’s breakthrough.

Kevin Toner had a number of chances during an impressive attacking performance where the young defender ventured forward on repeated occasions. A volley from the former Aston Villa man flew into the arms of McGinley, while another long-range effort was heroically tipped over the crossbar by the Harps goalkeeper.

Raffael Cretaro with Kevin Toner Raffael Cretaro battles for the ball alongside Kevin Toner. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Skipper Bermingham also fired over the top of the crossbar from another Simon Madden cross into the mixer, while shortly afterwards Harps centre back O’Reilly very nearly breached Brendan Clarke’s goal with a low shot which was blocked down at the last second by Toner.

Kenny sprung Walker from the bench with half an hour remaining, seeking to find a bit more attacking ingenuity up front. The U19 forward raced through on goal with some clever dribbling late in the second half, but once again McGinley stood the test and kept his clean sheet in tact with a low diving save to his right.

Harps looked on their way to ending a four-game losing streak as stoppage time approached.

However Walker would prove to be the match-winner with just seven minutes left on the clock, linking onto Dean Clarke’s through ball before slipping a precise low finish right into the bottom corner, sending the home supporters into rapturous celebration.

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC: Brendan Clarke; Ciaran Kelly, Kevin Toner, Lee Desmomd; Simon Madden, Cian Coleman, Rhys McCabe (Conor Clifford 23), Chris Forrester (Dean Clarke 79), Ian Bermingham; Mikey Drennan, Gary Shaw (Jake Walker 61)

FINN HARPS: Mark McGinley; Colm Deasy, Daniel O’Reilly, Keith Cowan, Gareth Harkin; , Mark Russell, Tony McNamee (Caolan McAleer 89),Raffaele Cretaro (Mark Timlin 70), Sam Todd, Michael Place, Nathan Boyle (Sean Boyd 85)

Referee: Neil Doyle

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About the author:

Aaron Gallagher  / Reporting from Richmond Park

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