Having battled gallantly for 90 minutes, the Ballybofey side they have plenty of courage and skill but need direction from the dug-out.
They made favourites Shelbourne work hard for their win at Tolka Park – a single David Cassidy goal the difference between the sides.
Before a crowd of just 650, Harps largely restricted their hosts to hard-fought half chances in the first half, and were probably the better side on the balance of play.
Harps played a pressing game which seemed to make the Shels midfielders uneasy, and lead to a number of half-chances. Marc Brolly saw his shot palmed away by Dean Delany on 16 minutes, but the visitors didn’t have any more clear chances until late in the second half.
The Reds came back in to the match then, with most of the play going their way. Harps were still able to keep the home side mainly to taking long-range shots though, and had a goal disallowed a minute before half time.
After a superb attacking move yielded a corner for the Donegal side, Garbhan Friel headed the ball powerfully into the goal. But the referee ruled to goal out, apparently because a Harps player impeded Shels ‘keeper Dean Delany.
Shels came out from half-time resurgent though and it wasn’t long before they broke the stalemate. Just four minutes into the new half David Cassidy scored with a tap in after two successive shots from Philly Hughes and Brendan McGill were blocked away by Gallagher.
Shels were then able to control the match a bit more- and Brendan McGill should have doubled their lead after 58 minutes. A deep Barry Clancy cross found McGill at the far post, but he somehow headed wide.
Philly Hughes worked well up front on his own, and could have scored from another Clancy cross on 64 minutes. The ball was just cleared before he got to it though. The striker again went close minutes later as Ciaran Gallagher was booked for sliding in on Hughes as he looked to have beaten the Harps keeper outside his own box.
The men from Ballybofey pushed hard for an equaliser in the final ten minutes, but lacked the cutting edge needed to beat the Shels defence. The Reds were able to stave off attacks and keep the ball in the opposition’s half to get the win.
Shelbourne: Dean Delany, Ian Ryan [Gareth Matthews ’88], Sean Byrne [Lorcan Fitzgerald HT], Andy Boyle, Stephen Paisley, Colm James, David McGill, David Cassidy [Ray Scully ’78], Phillip Hughes, Barry Clancy, Brendan McGill
Subs not used: Paul Skinner, Kevin Dawson, John Sullivan, Conan Byrne.
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher, Mark Brolly, James Doherty, Ciaran Coll, Packie Mailey, Mark Forker, Christy Connaghan [Gary Merritt ’67], Tommy Bonner, Keith Cowan, Garbhan Friel [Kevin McHugh ’87], Gareth Harkin [Gary Whoriskey ’78]
Subs not used: Aaron O’Hagan, Lee McFadden, Brian Curtis.Tags: