Finn Harps continued a miserable trend with a third consecutive home draw against fellow strugglers Salthill Devon at Finn Park as both sides ended the game with ten men.
In a slow-burning second half, Victor Collins picked up two bookings in the space of a minute before Marc Brolly was shown a straight red-card just six minutes later.
Both teams are now without a win and they remain in the bottom three of the first division as a result.
Experienced duo Conor O’Grady and Kevin McHugh gave the hosts a welcome boost, after they both came through late fitness tests to lineout, while Mark Forker returned to the starting XI following his three-match suspension.
Still missing the likes of Tommy Bonnar and Gareth Harkin, Harps were comforted by the return to fitness of Christy Connaghan, who made his first start of 2011 after re-signing from Fanad United in the closed-season.
Salthill travelled north with only a point to show from their previous five league games, scoring just two goals along the way and suffering 3-0 defeats in both away games, against Limerick and Monaghan.
Neither side were able to put their stamp on a first-half littered with poor decision-making, woeful ball retention and a litany of offside calls.
Nearly half an hour went by before either goalkeeper was called into action as Kevin McHugh brought down a long free-kick from Ciaran Coll before swivelling and letting fly with a half-volley, which proved to be simple enough for Bernard Power to keep hold of.
After a bright opening, Salthill came back into the game late in the first half and the home side needed some fine backtracking work from James Doherty and Keith Cowan to thwart Etanda Nkololo and Victor Collins, following a quick counter from the visitors.
The two best chances of the opening period came two minutes before the break, with Nkololo crashing the top of the crossbar with an audacious thirty-yard lob that had Ciaran Gallagher beaten all-ends-up, while Marc Brolly headed straight into the arms of Power from a delicious Connaghan inswinger.
The home side upped their game threefold after the break and should’ve had the lead two minutes in when Marc Brolly, lively and demanding throughout, blazed a twelve yard shot high over the bar following a headed knock-down from Kevin McHugh.
Salthill, while lacking some of the energy of the first period, continued to be threatening on the break, with Rupa forcing Gallagher into a near-post save after Nkololo set him free with a wonderfully instinctive first-time pass. With less than twenty minutes to go, Harps were handed a numerical advantage after Victor Collins picked two yellow cards inside a minute.
The striker was first to go into referee John McLaughlin’s book following a late tackle on Ciaran Coll but instead of walking away quietly, he decided to get under his skin and was duly given his marching orders for needless dissent.
Just six minutes later, however, Harps also found themselves down to ten men when, after losing control of the ball, Marc Brolly went off the ground with a two-footed lunge, clattering into Cian McBrien.
There was no malice in the tackle but the winger could have no complaints as he became the third Harps player in three consecutive home games to get sent off.
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher; James Doherty, Packie Mailey, Keith Cowan, Ciaran Coll; Mark Forker, Conor O’Grady, Raymond Foy; Christy Connaghan, Kevin McHugh, Marc Brolly. Subs: Aaron McElwee (Foy, 60 mins), Oisin McMenamin (Connaghan, 63 mins).
Salthill Devon: Bernard Power, Gearoid O’Leidhinn, James Whelan, Cian Fadden, Eugene Greaney; Colm Horgan, Ciprian Straut, Cian McBrien, Etanda Nkololo; Victor Collins, Daniel Rupa. Sub: Ronan Conlon (McBrien, 83 mins).
Referee: John McLaughlin.Tags: