A rollercoaster afternoon for hundreds of traveling Finn Harps fans ended in disappointment as opponents St Patrick’s Athletic easily came out on top 6-1 winners.
When Packie Mailey cancelled out the Dublin team’s opening goal, there was a feeling that perhaps Finn Harps could cause a huge upset.
But those dreams were snuffed out as early as half-time as Pats grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and went in 3-1 at the interval.
Harps battled hard throughout the game but superior football from the likes of Cillian Brennan, Keith Fahey and Sean Hoare saw the Donegal side chase shadows for almost the entire of the second half.
Despite the home side starting the stronger, Harps stuck to their gameplan and tried to keep their shape.
That plan was unlocked in the 18th minute by St Pats when Cillian Brennan scored a spectacular free kick after Josh Mailey fouled Forrester.
Brennan’s stunning kick was placed beautifully in the top left corner past the outstretched Conor Wynn.
But instead of putting the heads down, Harps battled hard and Keven McHugh forced a corner in the 28th minute.
From the corner Convoy man Packie Mailey rose highest at the back post to head home to make it 1-1.
Harps piled on all the pressure and should have got a penalty in the 35th minute when Kenny Brown upended Pat McCann on the edge of the St Pats box.
But just when it looked like Harps were getting the upper hand, Pats went ahead again.
Sean Hoare, with his first goal for the Inchicore side, rose highest in the area to head home into the bottom left of Wynn’s net to make it 2-1.
How Harps were wishing the half-time whistle would come as Pats pressed further up the field.
It didn’t quite come in time to stop Pats getting a third and taking complete control of the game, however.
Conan Byrne was slipped through by Christy Fagan who lifted the ball over Wynn who may have went down to early in the 42nd minute to make it 3-1.
Pats have finished the first half stronger as they pushed the play up the field.
The premier division side look to be getting stronger as Harps becoming increasingly more frustrated.
Ollie Horgan was doubtless trying to tell his side to keep the pats attack at bay and hope to snatch a goal which would have them in this game.
But lying deep and inviting Pats on to them was like feeding sharks – eventually someone was going to get hurt.
And they did – on three more occasions.
Cillian Brennan, who was later named man of the Match, grabbed his second from the right wing past a disappointing Wynn while Conan Byrne also made little of the big Harps goalkeeper a short time later.
Gareth Harkin, probably Harps best player along with goalscorer Packie Mailey, was unlucky to see himself red-carded as he lunged in at the Pats defense.
If Harkin was unlucky, sub Sean McCarron can consider himself extremely lucky to remain on the pitch after his brutal tackle on Pats sub Sam Verdon saw him receive only a yellow card as Verdon had to be carried off the pitch.
Ollie Horgan was sent to the stand as the referee lost control of the game for a time.
Harps can have no qualms about losing to Liam Buckley’s highly-organised and talented team who could well lift the FAI Cup for the first time in their history judging by this performance.