November 8, 2018

Finn Harps… 2  Athlone Town… 0
(Minnock 16, Gethins 90)

Chris Mc Nulty reports
Jonathan Minnock marked the occasion of his equalling Jim Sheridan’s record haul of appearances for Finn Harps in the best of fashions last night when he struck a fabulous goal after 16 minutes to send his side on their way to a vitally important two-nil win.

The Convoy man was making his 397 th appearance for the club – a quite remarkable achievement when one considers that the tough tackling left flanker is still some five months short of his 30 th birthday – last night and, oddly enough, he was lining out against the record holder’s son.

Jim Sheridan, the Athlone centre half, is a son of the Harps legend of the same name, and last night the towering defender didn’t even last until the interval as he was dismissed on 44 minutes for a second bookable offence.

The initial card was shown for a wild tackle from behind on Conor Gethins, while yellow number two was flashed for a deliberate handball. Whether or not his frustration had been caused by the equalling of Jim Snr’s record remains to be seen.

Minnock- Scored a Screamer, Broke Appearances Record
A better than usual crowd trundled through the Finn Park gates last evening – one would suspect around 700 – and for once the home faithful departed in high spirits after witnessing a rare home win.

A minute after the quarter of an hour mark the opening goal arrived and fittingly it was the record man who found the opening on what was a special night all around for him.

Conor Gethins carved an opening and his through ball was latched onto by Minnock and he made no mistake thumping powerfully past Danny O’Leary. His left-footed drive was his 19 th goal for the Finn siders.

Earlier, O’Leary had been equal to efforts from both Malseed and Gethins, but this time he was powerless to stop Minnock’s powerful effort from bulging the net at the River End.

Harps enjoyed the better of the play in the first period, but after the break it was the visitors who looked most likely to forge a breakthrough as ten-man Athlone pressed for a leveller.

Damien Rushe should have done better from close range after being fed by Moran, but he fired off target when a goal seemed certain.

Stephen Mullen then smacked James Gallagher’s crossbar following a Moran corner. The home crowd began panicking and they feared the worst was inevitable. Who could blame them with Harps’ defensive frailties thus far in 2006?

Substitute, Steve Feeney, then beat Gallagher with a subtle lob, but his effort was narrowly over. As time wore on, Harps were just about hanging on and the Finn Park faithful had to wait until the final minute before doubling the advantage.

Visiting netminder, Danny O’Leary – red carded on his last appearance at the venue – rushed forward to join his comrades in a crowded Harps penalty box as they pressed for an equaliser.

Nothing, in the form of an Athlone goal, was forthcoming and Harps cleared the danger. Michael Funston picked up possession burst up field and let fly with an enterprising long range effort which came off Robbie Hamm into the path of Conor Gethins.

The Lifford man needed no second invitation as he gleefully tapped into the unguarded net to seal the win and send the Harps support home relieved at what was a vital win.
Next up for Anthony Gorman’s side is an away trip to Newbridge to face Kildare County next Saturday night where they will be hoping to emulate the 5-2 opening day success, when Gethins was the hero of the night, hitting four goals.

Finn Harps: James Gallagher; Shaun Mc Gowan, David Bell, Eloka Asokhu, Shane Bradley; Chris Breen, Anthony Gorman, Chris Malseed, Jonathan Minnock, Matthew Crossan; Conor Gethins. Subs: Michael Funston (for Crossan, 84); Darren Meenan (for Breen, 86).

Athlone Town: Danny O’Leary; Robbie Hamm, Des Hope, Jim Sheridan, Alan Kelly; Ian Rossiter, Padraig Moran, Colin Fortune, Damien Rushe; Eric Lavine, Istvan Lakatos. Subs: Stephen Mullen (for Lakatos, 59); Adrian Carberry (for Moran, 64); Steve Feeney (for Hope, 69).

Referee: Neil Doyle

Finn Harps Dot Com Man of the Match: Harps had a few sound performers last night with Matthew Crossan impressing with his hard work ethic and Eloka Asokhu turning in a good evening’s graft at the office.

The award however goes to our record holder, Jonathan Minnock. On an evening on which he was handed the Finn Park captaincy, the Convoy man excelled in an uncustomary midfield position. Passing, distribution and tackling were all vintage ‘Minno’ last night and the tin hat was put on his night with a thumping opening goal after 16 minutes.