THE puffs of blue smoke sweeping through the Ballybofey sky painted the backdrop to an absorbing FAI Cup tie.
Finn Harps 3 Dundalk 3
By Chris McNulty at Finn Park. Pictures by Joe Boland, North West Newspix
Sub Sean Boyd scored twice late on as Finn Harps forced a sensational FAI Cup quarter-final to a replay.
Harps’ Cup hopes looked dead and buried until Boyd, in the 95th minute, slotted home a dramatic equaliser to tee up a Tuesday night replay at Oriel Park.
Pat Hoban’s brace looked to have booked a spot in the last four for Cup holders Dundalk, but Harps – who played over an hour with ten men after Jordan Mustoe’s sending off – salvaged the night.
Harps were given a lifeline when Boyd rose to head home six minutes from the end.
Boyd saw another effort thwarted by Daniel Cleary as Harps looked to force a replay.
Their luck seemed to have run out when Kosovar Sadiki looped over the top – but there was to be another twist.
Boyd took receipt of Ryan Rainey’s ball into the area in the fifth minute of added time. The Dubliner kept his composure to slot home. Finn Park held its breath for a second, but the old place went wild as the Town End net rippled.
Dundalk came from behind with Pat Hoban scoring twice and it looked as if Ollie Horgan’s Harps were out of the race to the Aviva Stadium.
Harps were leading through Tunde Owolabi’s superb strike just five minutes earlier when the pendulum took a dubious swing in Dundalk’s favour.
Sean Murray’s shot was blocked on the line by Harps full-back Mustoe. Damien McGrath, the referee, deemed that Mustoe handled the ball and issued the Englishman with a red card – much to the fury of the Harps management, adamant the ball struck his shoulder.
Eventually, when the dust settled, Hoban riffled the spot kick past Mark Anthony McGinley.
Murray had Dundalk in front and the pair combined for the third on 65 minutes, Hoban heading home.
Harps were without the injured Will Seymore and Shane McEleney, but Johnny Dunleavy was passed fit to play having picked up an arm injury in Monday’s defeat to Bohemians.
After a tepid opening, the home side hit the front on 24 minutes.
Barry McNamee robbed possession back for Harps down the right-hand side after a Dundalk throw-in. McNamee slipped the ball through for Owolabi, whose crisp low shot beat Peter Cherrie.
Owolabi hit the winner in the previous round against Derry City and the Belgian’s goal had the big Finn Park crowd dreaming of a seventh visit to the FAI Cup semi-finals.
Within five minutes, Dundalk were level and Murray fired Dundalk in front with a daisy-cutter from 30 yards that seemed to take a deflected on its way to the bottom corner in the 39th minute.
In between times, Harps had a penalty appeal of their own waved away when Ethan Boyle went to ground under Cameron Dummigan’s challenge.
Dundalk arrived in Ballybofey on the back of a wretched sequence of results and no Premier Division wins since their last successful voyage to the Twin Towns in July.
The Lilywhites’ almost had a third late in the first half, but Mark Coyle saved the day on the line to keep out Sam Stanton’s effort.
Murray whizzed just over the top from a free kick on the hour as Dundalk sought about putting the game to bed.
From Murray’s cross, Hoban nodded home and it looked to have put the tie well beyond Harps’ reach.
Boyd was sprung from the bench in the 73rd minute and the big striker was the hero of the hour as Harps forced an absorbing tie to another go.
Finn Harps: Mark Anthony McGinley; Ethan Boyle, Kosovar Sadiki, Dave Webster, Jordan Mustoe; Mark Coyle (Luke Rudden 86), Johnny Dunleavy (Stephen Doherty 73); Karl O’Sullivan, Barry McNamee (Adam Foley 73), Ryan Rainey; Tunde Owolabi (Sean Boyd 73).
Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; Cameron Dummingham, Andy Boyle, Daniel Cleary, Raivis Jurkovskis; Sam Stanton, Greg Sloggett; Will Patching; Michael Duffy (Darragh Leahy 92), Patrick Hoban, Sean Murray (Mayowa Animasahun 87).
Referee: Damien MacGraith.Tags: