JUNIOR Ogedi-Uzokwe’s hat-trick condemned Finn Harps to a derby defeat at Derry City, but the Donegal side move swiftly on to more pressing matters.
Derry City 4 Finn Harps 0
By Chris McNulty at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium. Pictures by Joe Boland
It is a game that will be quickly consigned to the distant part of the memories as Harps advance to the crunch business of the play-offs and a first leg with Drogheda United, who were comfortable winners against Cabinteely.
Harps deployed a completely changed team for their visit to Foyleside and manager Ollie Horgan opted to take in the second leg of the Drogheda-Cabinteely game at United Park rather than take his position in the away dugout at the Brandywell. Instead, Harps were under the direction of assistant manager Paul Hegarty tonight.
Ogedi-Uzokwe’s treble sealed European qualification for Derry, who will be back in the Europa League for the first time since 2017.
A brace in the first half from Ogedi-Uzokwe had given Derry the advantage and the English attacker completed his hat-trick on 64 minutes. Jamie McDonagh’s superb ball over the top found Ogedi-Uzokwe and his finish gave debutant goalkeeper Jamie Bell no chance.
Twelve minutes from the end, Grant Gillespie fired home his first Derry goal from a cross by former Harps captain Ciaran Coll.
For Harps, it was a case of fulfilling a fixture and barely much more, save for adding minutes to some of the promising young CVs.
However there was a worry for the visitors when Keith Cowan – who started a game for the first time since the 0-0 draw with UCD earlier in the month – was withdrawn at half-time. Cowan had been a doubt for this one and the captain lasted only 45 minutes.
Tony McNamee took the captain’s armband for the second half, with his older brother, Barry, skippering Derry in a unique clash.
Harps came out well at the outset of part two.
Liam Walsh was unable to overly work Derry ‘keeper Peter Cherrie. When McNamee played in Colm Deasy soon after, the small away support sensed a goal, but Grant Gillespie intervened to make a timely challenge.
Niall Logue fired off target after getting on the end of a Daniel O’Reilly cross, while Derry penalty claims were waved away when Parkhouse went down under a tackle by Logue, who came in for Cowan at the interval.
With the first leg of the promotion-relegation play-off to come on Monday, Horgan made 11 changes to the Harps side form that which overcame Waterford FC last Friday.
Rookie goalkeeper Bell was in for his first taste of senior action. Defender Kieran Farren was also handed a debut, playing in a deep-set midfield role, while there was a first start for Shaun Doherty, a summer signing from Greencastle FC.
Derry boss Declan Devine kept faith with the same eleven who lost 3-1 here to St Patrick’s Athletic on Tuesday night.
Derry swept into the lead when Ogedi-Uzokwe slotted past the advancing Bell in the 15th minute. Put through by Barry McNamee’s delicious through ball, Junior made no mistake with a cool finish.
Just eight minutes later, Derry doubled the advantage. McNamee’s corner caused panic in the visiting rearguard and Ogedi-Uzokwe, eventually, converted from close range.
In between times, Colm Deasy denied David Parkhouse with a timely block as the Candystripes hitman had a go from a McNamee pull-back.
Earlier, Ally Gilchrist headed into the side netting from Jamie McDonagh’s corner as City looked to unsettle the hosts.
Ogedi-Uzokwe broke the deadlock, Derry were on their way and Harps’ minds had already turned to next week.
Derry City: Peter Cherrie; Grant Gillespie, Eoin Toal (Mark McChrystal 75), Ally Gilchrist, Ciaran Coll; Jamie McDonagh (Aidy Delap 68), Greg Sloggett, Ciaron Harkin, Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe; Barry McNamee (Michael McCrudden 79); David Parkhouse.
Finn Harps: Jamie Bell; Colm Deasy, Keith Cowan (Joshua Smith half-time), Niall Logue, Daniel O’Reilly; Shaun Doherty (Jack Doherty 78), Stephen Doherty, Kieran Farren; Tony McNamee (Mark Coyle 67); Liam Walsh, Mikey Place.
Referee: Derek Tomney.Tags: