Finn Harps 2 Wexford Youths 1
By Chris McNulty at Finn Park
KEITH Cowan and Sean McCarron hit the goals as Finn Harps booked their place in the third round of the FAI Cup.
Cowan smahed home from close range in the 55th minute and McCarron netted from the spot eleven minutes from time for his eighth of the season.
There were some late nerves when Eric Molloy volleyed home in the 85th minute, but Harps held on.
Wexford had become something of a bogey side for Harps since their introduction to the League of Ireland in 2007, with Harps having won just two of their last ten home fixtures with the sides sharing a 0-0 draw here eight weeks ago.
Captain Kevin McHugh was missing in action through suspension and was replaced by Paul McVeigh, with Aaron O’Hagan and Damien McNulty also coming back into the team, in place of Johnny Bonner and James Doherty, who dropped out of the team that lost to these opponents seven days earlier in the League.
Then, Joe Mulcahy and Aidan Keenan netted goals to give Shane Keegan’s side a 2-1 win after McCarron had shot Harps ahead.
Harps opened well and the in-form McCarron stung the palms of Graham Doyle with a brilliant volley in the seventh minute.
Dean Broaders blasted wide on one rare attack, but otherwise it was a dour and lifeless opening, until Wexford had a glorious opportunity which they spurned three minutes before the break.
Shane Nolan’s block down of Thomas Bonnar’s pass set Broaders in the clear, but he was denied by Ciaran Gallagher – just back from a week of training with the Republic of Ireland Under 21s. Nolan continued his run and beat Gallagher with the rebound, only for O’Hagan to clear from the goal-line.
McVeigh came close early in the second half, but his smartly-struck effort was tipped round the post by Doyle.
Harps broke the deadlock in the 55th minute when Cowan crashed home from close range after Gary Merritt’s teasing free kick evaded the majority in the crowded goal mouth.
The home side begun to turn the screw and they might have stretched the lead, but Doyle saved well from Damien McNulty’s powerful header.
Harps thought they had a penalty in the 71st minute. Referee Ray Matthews pointed to the spot after he adjudged – harsly, it must be said – McVeigh’s cross to have struck James Dermody’s arm.
After consultation with assistant referee Declan Toland, Matthews altered his decision and awarded a free kick, which came to nothing.
Seven minutes later, though, they were awarded a spot kick when McVeigh was pulled down by Shane Nolan and McCarron coolly tucked home his eighth goal of the season.
Molloy riffled home in the 85th minute, but it wasn’t enough to inspire a comeback and Harps march on.
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher; Damien McNulty, Keith Cowan, Aaron O’Hagan, Thomas McMonagle; Gary Merritt, Thomas Bonnar, Michael Funston, Ciaran Coll; Sean McCarron, Paul McVeigh. Sub: Shaun McGowan for McVeigh (90 mins).
Wexford Youths: Graham Doyle; Craig McCabe, CJ Browne, Jamie Carr, James Dermody; Eric Molloy, Shane Nolan, Thomas Croke, Brian Nolan, Aidan Keenan; Dean Broaders. Subs: Joey Mulcahy for Broaders (70 mins), Daryl Power for Croke (77 mins), Glen Hawe for Browne (90 mins).
Referee: Ray Matthews (Dublin).
Ford Man of the Match: Michael Funston (Finn Harps).