Finn Harps were denied an upset as Gearóid Morrissey’s stunning brace saw Cork City eke out win from a seven-goal thriller at Finn Park.
Finn Harps 3 Cork City 4
By Chris McNulty at Finn Park. Photos by Joe Boland, North West News Pix
Caolan McAleer and Mark Coyle had first-half goals cancelled out by Conor McCarthy and Morrissey before Cork, whose out-of-sorts season looked set to continue in the first half, hit back.
When Graham Cummins had Cork 4-2 up with 20 minutes to go, few gave Harps a prayer.
But, nine minutes from time, a chink of light appeared when Raffaele Cretaro bagged his first Harps goal, finishing from close range.
Harps couldn’t magic up a fourth of their own and there was a real sense of what might have been as Harps followers headed into the night with Cork indebted to Morrissey’s double.
Twelve minutes into the second half, Morrissey sent a stunning 25-yard strike beyond Ciaran Gallagher to give the Rebels the edge.
Morrissey nudged a Harps man away before firing a beauty to the top corner.
Cork sealed the deal when Graham Cummins, a half-time substitute, rose to head in from Shane Griffin’s corner.
In between times, Gallagher, included for his a first start of the year, in one of six changes, had to be at his best to save Karl Sheppard’s header from point-blank range.
Gallagher saved at Sheppard’s feet soon after as Cork showed a new purpose in the second period to leave Harps still looking for a first win of the season.
Harps got off to a dream start and hit the front with only 67 seconds on the clock.
McAleer beat Cork goalkeeper Mark McNulty in a race to a long ball from the Harps rear-guard and the Omagh man, from the edge of the area, clipped a tidy finish to the River End net.
The lead was short-lived, though, as Cork drew level in the 15th minute, McCarthy heading home in a crowded penalty area after Shane Griffin’s corner was flicked into his path.
Moments earlier, Harps midfielder Mark Coyle forced McNulty into palming away a drive from distance.
Coyle warmed McNulty’s palms again soon after when Cork only managed to partially clear a Harps attack before Harry Ascroft drilled well wide from 20 yards after being fed by Sean Boyd.
Harps regained the lead when Coyle nodded in McAleer’s cross – and it was no more than Harps deserved at that point. Harry Ascroft and Coyle worked an opening for Sean Boyd, whose powerful shot was blocked. The alert McAleer, though, was on hand, to tee up Coyle, who made no mistake with the finish.
Just as the clock entered added time at the end of the first half, Cork levelled for a second time.
The ball fell invitingly to Morrissey, who took a neat first touch and an even better second to send a dipping volley beyond the reach of Gallagher.
In addition to Gallagher, Sam Todd, Colm Deasy, Raffaele Cretaro, Coyle and Boyd all came into the starting XI.
Morrissey and Sheppard passed late fitness tests to start for Cork, who had a stuttering start to their season, claiming four points from their opening four games of the term.
John Caulfield’s team were well below par for much of the first half and could certainly count themselves fortunate to be level at the break.
Harps were dealt a blow this week with confirmation that Gareth Harkin faces three months out of action. Harkin, who had worn the captain’s armband in the early games of the season, was stretchered off during Monday’s 3-0 defeat to Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght.
Cork upped the ante after the break and Dan Casey might’ve done better eight minutes into the new half, but couldn’t trouble Gallagher.
When Morrissey put them in front, they were on their way, though Harps will surely take plenty of encouragement from their endeavours.
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher; Jacob Borg, Keith Cowan, Sam Todd; Colm Deasy (Tony McNamee 73), Harry Ascroft, Raffaele Cretaro, Mark Coyle, Daniel O’Reilly; Caolan McAleer, Sean Boyd (Nathan Boyle 63).
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Colm Horgan, Conor McCarthy, Dan Casey, Shane Griffin; Daire O’Connor (Darragh Rainsford 79), Conor McCormack, Garry Buckley, Gearóid Morrissey; Dan Smith (Graham Cummins half-time), Karl Sheppard (Gary Comerford 90).
Referee: Damien McGraith.Tags: