Finn Harps’ EA Sports League Cup hopes for 2011 were ended almost as soon as they began when Mervue Utd advanced to the second round of the competition after an extra time Rory Gaffney penalty gave them a first win of the season at Fahy’s Field on Monday night.
The crazy scenario of all three Galway club’s playing at home on Monday night saw small crowds attend all three games with probably the biggest crowd in Fahy’s Field were we had to wait until extra time and the 97th minute for a goal, while goals were a plenty in the other two games in the city.
In an evenly matched first half, the home side shaded the chances which were created. Debut boy John Mountney created the first chance of note as he slipped a good ball to winger Tom King who cut inside hitting a low strike which James Gallagher saved well with his feet at the expense of a corner on 22 minutes. The home side had earlier lost centre half Martin Conneely on the quarter hour mark with a nasty head wound which required five stitches as Darren Kelly entered the fray.
They then lost Mountney, who had showed some nice touches, just after the half hour mark as Rory Gaffney was sprung from the bench. Gallagher tipped a curling Marc Ludden free-kick over his crossbar after Tom King had been hauled down on the edge of the box. At the other end Kevin McHugh created space for a well struck effort but Ger Hanley saved smartly with a flying save on 42 minutes.
Seven minutes after the break and King raced clear down the right wing before cutting into the box and sending a low ball across the six yard box but Gaffney just couldnt get a touch on it to knock it home to the empty net. McHugh then blazed over the crossbar after a mistake by Nicky Curran allowed him a sight on Hanley’s goal on 59 minutes.
McHugh then saw another fine effort on the turn saved down low by an alert Hanley on 67 minutes. An excellent cross-field ball from King on the right wing picked out Gaffney once again, but he flashed his shot across the Harps goal and just passed Gallagher’s far post on 74 minutes.
The final quarter hour had extra time written all over it as the game failed to produce a goal following ninety minutes of scoreless play. Into extra time and Packie Mailey headed a Gary Whoriskey corner just over on 96 minutes before a goal finally arrived a minute later.
Sub Peter Dravins found himself in the Harps box and before he could shape to shoot he was pulled down by Mailey who was duly booked. Gaffney took the responsibility for the spot kick and blasted his effort to Gallagher’s right for 1-0.
Gaffney got on the end of another clever King through ball but he struck his effort badly wide of the advancing Gallagher’s far post after 102 minutes. Five minutes later and Harps had claims for a penalty waved away as Mike Elwood and Mailey, now positioned as a centre forward, collided in the penalty box.
Harps threw everything forward in search of an equaliser as sub Darren McGeever saw his low shot saved by Hanley after Mailey’s knock back had set him up in the box. Harps came very close to levelling matters just on half time of the extra period. Mervue failed to clear a corner and Mailey’s on target header beat Hanley but Noel Varley was on hand to boot clear off the goal line.
Mervue weren’t done either as they counter attacked well as Ludden swapped passes with Dravins before cutting into the box but he couldn’t pick out a teammate with his low cross as Harps cleared once again. Gaffney then wasted another chance on 115 minutes as the home team failed to settle the game.
They were nearly made to pay the price on 116 minutes when Garret Harkin found himself free inside the home box, but he pulled his effort badly wide with Hanley to beat. That proved to be the final chance of the game as Mervue saw out the remaining few minutes rather comfortably with Mike Elwood and James Casserely commanding at the back.
Mervue Utd: Ger Hanley, Nicky Curran, James Casserely, Martin Conneely (Darren Kelly ’18), Mike Elwood, Kevin Crehan, Tom King, Noel Varley, Jason Molloy (Peter Dravins ’81), John Mountney (Rory Gaffney ’33) and Marc Ludden.
Subs not used: Alex Lee, Barry McEntee, TJ Forde (GK).
Booked: Noel Varley (67), Jason Molloy (69) Marc Ludden (78)
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher, James Doherty, Ciaran Coll, Packie Mailey, Aaron O’Hagan (Keith Cowan ’46), Gareth Harkin, Conor O’Grady, Gary Whoriskey; Raymond Foy, Oisin McMenamin (Gary Merritt ’77), Kevin McHugh (Darren McGeever ‘106)
Substitutes Not Used: Aaron MacAlwee, Lee McFadden (GK)
Booked: Aaron O’Hagan (18), Ciaran Coll (32), Gareth Harkin (78) Packie Mailey (97)
Referee: Darren Coombes (Dublin)