St Pat’s give Harps that sink­ing feel­ing

Home subs hit three late goals to leave vis­i­tors in the rel­e­ga­tion zone

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - SOCCER - Em­met Malone at Rich­mond Park

Liam Buck­ley’s side matched their big­gest win of the sea­son to plunge their op­po­nents here back into the bot­tom three for the first time since late May.

The score­line seemed a lit­tle harsh on Harps by the end but the Dublin­ers, for whom Kur­tis Byrne got two af­ter com­ing on in the 74th minute, cer­tainly de­served a win that main­tains the up­ward mo­men­tum they have man­aged to build in re­cent weeks.

With games against Dun­dalk, Sham­rock Rovers then Bo­hemi­ans com­ing up in the league, some of the shine will be taken off the win, though, if the in­jury sus­tained by Owen Gar­van just over an hour in turns out to be se­ri­ous.

It cer­tainly seemed to be at the time with the player giv­ing the firm im­pres­sion to med­i­cal staff that he was in a lot of pain as they pre­pared to carry him to­wards to carry him off the field.

At the fi­nal whis­tle, though, there was a sense of re­lief that Harps had fi­nally been beaten. The Done­gal men had won both of the pre­vi­ously meet­ings be­tween the two sides this sea­son and from the way the home side started the game it felt as though St Pa­trick’s might be in­tent on hand­ing them the hat-trick.

Harps lacked the punch up front to make the most of the chances that came their way dur­ing those early ex­changes but mid­field then emerged as their most press­ing prob­lem with Paul O’Conor and Gar­van pass­ing their way their through the blue shirts far too eas­ily.

Lively

Up front, the lo­cals had prob­lems of their own with Christy Fa­gan hav­ing missed out through ill­ness but his re­place­ment, Josh O’Han­lon, the hosts looked lively and dan­ger­ous with Gra­ham Kelly in the cen­tre and Co­nan Byrne out­side pos­ing a per­sis­tent threat.

Their first at­tempt on goal came cour­tesy of Michael Barker who wasn’t too far off the mark af­ter be­ing teed up by O’Conor. Kelly showed how it should be done in the 24th minute af­ter the for­mer Lim­er­ick mid­fielder found him in much the same po­si­tion and the 25-year-old took a touch to side­step a de­fender be­fore coolly push­ing the ball beyond Ciarán Gal­lagher and into the bot­tom left cor­ner.

Lit­tle enough of what fol­lowed was quite so pol­ished but it was en­ter­tain­ing stuff, at least in part be­cause it took the home side so long to cap­i­talise on their su­pe­ri­or­ity and get the sec­ond goal that put the re­sult beyond ques­tion.

They came close more than once with Ciarán Coll but it wasn’t un­til Kur­tis Byrne turned Billy Den­nehy’s cross home seven min­utes from time that Harps ac­tu­ally looked beaten. Ol­lie Hor­gan will won­der how dif­fer­ently the clos­ing stages might have panned out for his side if Ed­die Dsane had headed Sean Hous­ton’s cross home in­stead of wide a few min­utes be­fore Byrne struck at the other end.

Dis­as­ter

As it was, they were a bit of a dis­as­ter for the vis­i­tors with Dsane sent off, ap­par­ently for dis­sent, and Co­nan Byrne getting his side’s third of the night af­ter link­ing up well with his name­sake.

The sub­sti­tute then rounded things off by getting his sec­ond four min­utes into added time with a shot that took a de­flec­tion off Coll be­fore fly­ing into the top cor­ner.

The Harps play­ers looked shell shocked as their hosts cel­e­brated yet again.

News of Sligo’s win at Turner’s Cross will not have helped and the prospect of fac­ing Cork them­selves on Mon­day night hardly seems the best way to lift their spir­its.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: DONALL FARMER/INPHO

St Pa­trick’s Ath­letic’s Gra­ham Kelly and Sean Hous­ton of Finn Harps col­lide at Rich­mond Park last night.

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