O’Donnell took responsibility following the withdrawal of Kevin McHugh at half-time to head the only goal of the game on 49 minutes.
He added a second two minutes from time when he drove home after a nice move that involved Kevin Devaney, Conor O’Grady and Gary Curran.
The home team had a number of decent opportunities in the opening half in front of the sporadic attendees, which ranged around the 300-mark.
McHugh missed a decent chance on six minutes, before Devaney cut outside of left-back Emmet Shaw and having got to the by-line pulled back to the incoming Mark McGoldrick. However, the striker leant too far back upon connection and the ball was directed wide. O’Donnell also showed a glimpse of quality when he cut in from the left flank but his stinging drive was just over Adrian Faherty’s crossbar.
A reasonably enterprising opening, though, faded a little towards the conclusion of the first 45 minutes when whatever positive play there was became scrappy as the half fizzled out.
The side managed by Peter Hutton have been more resilient of late, especially at the back, but with Packie Mailey, Gareth Harkin, Martin Redmond and Blaine Curtis all suspended a few square pins had to be squeezed into round holes.
Salthill, for their part under the management of Harps 1974 FAI Cup winner Paul McGee, were minus the services of Paul Smyth following his sending off against Waterford United last week.
The withdrawal of McHugh at half-time, having received treatment having stretched for a ball just before the interval, seemed to lessen the chance of a goal for the hosts.
After all, it was McHugh who grabbed a hat-trick in the previous meeting of the teams this season.
Four minutes into the second half, after renewed impetus from the home team, O’Donnell headed the opening goal when the former Sligo Rovers midfielder was unmarked from Devaney’s floated delivery. On 53 minutes, O’Donnell should’ve added a second but after a lovely first touch to control, shot over when played into space by Marc Brolly.
O’Grady made his first appearance in almost six months having undertaken an operation on an ankle injury but Salthill had their best spell of the match midway through the second half. As their few half chances came to nothing, though, and while Ciaran Gallagher was a virtual spectator, Harps were comfortable as the contest wound to an end and O’Donnell’s second goal confirmed the win.
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher; Aaron O’Hagan, Keith Cowan, Ciaran Coll; Thomas Bonner, Kevin Devaney, Stephen O’Donnell, Barry O’Mahony (Conor O’Grady 72), Marc Brolly; Kevin McHugh (Gary Curran 46), Mark McGoldrick (Mark Forker 82).
Salthill Devon: Adrian Faherty; Colm Morgan, Paddy Guinlan, Cian Fadden, Emmet Shaw; Eugene Greaney, Luke McConnell, Robert Porter, Gerry Dolan (Paul Convet 85), Ronan Conlon (Ope Owaru 64); James Whelan (Brian Geraghty 64).Tags: