November 8, 2018

Finn Harps… 1  Drogheda United… 0
(Funston 82)

Chris Mc Nulty reports from Finn Park

A Michael Funston goal eight minutes from time was enough for Sean ‘Wizard’ Mc Gowan’s Finn Harps Under 21s to defeat Drogheda United at Finn Park earlier today.

In what was a hard-fought encounter, there was little in the way of clear-cut chances and the game seemed destined for a scoreless draw until Funston popped up on 82 minutes for the only goal of the game.

Having made a brief return to first team action last night, the Bonagee native commenced this afternoon in the centre of the Harps midfield alongside Shane O’Connor.

On 82 minutes he latched onto a fine through ball and after holding off the attention of his marker he personified calmness in slotting home beyond the reach of Padraig Rath.

Harps held out for a win, which will be particularly pleasing for the management as the previous two clashes – against Dundalk (League) and Sligo (League Cup) – ended in defeat.

This was the first meeting of the sides in almost two seasons. The last meeting was in August 2004 when Drogheda were 4-0 victors at Finn Park in the Enda Mc Guill Cup.

From that side, only Michael Funston started today’s game, while Scott Devenney also appeared as a second half substitute.

This afternoon’s clash was played out before a small attendance in the Ballybofey sunshine and although the scoring was scant, the tie was still an entertaining one for the spectators.

Darren Meenan, who made a brief cameo appearance for the first team the previous evening, was guilty of missing the game’s first scoring opportunity after seven minutes.

Lively winger Ryan Mc Gavigan made ground down the left flank and his teasing cross found Meenan at the back post, but his header was off target.

Thereafter, chances were very much at a premium in the first period, with neither side troubling the opposition goalkeeper too much.

The best chance for Drogheda fell the way of Sean Brennan, but he fired wide from a good opportunity was afforded to him following a breakdown in communications in the Harps rearguard.

Part two commenced in the now-customary battle-like conditions with the goal-mouth action in limited availability, with the first chance of note not arriving until after the hour mark.

The Co. Louth men almost stole the lead goal when Paul Matondo nipped in past Brian Lafferty and found himself breathing down the neck of Harps ‘keeper Michael Mc Kelvey.

The young Gweedore man was equal to his effort, though, palming away one handed from Matondo’s right-footed strike.

Gary Crossan and Darren Meenan then flashed efforts across goal at the other end, but none resulted in a movement in the score-line.

Meenan was then played in by a fine Crossan through ball, but just as the pint-sized front man was about to pull the trigger, Gareth Whelan intercepted and the chance was lost.

With just eight minutes remaining on the watch, Michael Funston broke the deadlock and Harps clinched a valuable three points ahead of next Monday’s clash with Derry City – who were defeated one-nil by Mullingar yesterday – at Finn Park.

Finn Harps: Michael Mc Kelvey, Brian Lafferty, Cornelius Gallagher, James Doherty, Barry Mulligan, Shane O’Connor, Gary Crossan, Michael Funston, Jonathan Gallagher, Darren Meenan, Ryan Mc Gavigan. Subs: Gary Whoriskey and Cathal Sharkey (for Mc Gavigan and O’Connor, 65); Scott Devenney (for Gallagher 84); Colm Mc Gonagle (for Crossan 88).

Drogheda United: Padraig Rath, Darren Mc Cann, Gavin Brennan, Paul Cobbe, Gareth Whelan, Sean Williams, Andy Montgomery, James Guilfoyle, Rory Eviston, Sean Brennan, Paul Motondo. Sub: Ciaran Harting (for Matondo, 75).