Drogheda United 2 Finn Harps 0
By Chris McNulty at Hunky Dorys Park
FINN Harps’ FAI Cup dreams are over.
Peter Hutton’s side were denied a Finn Park semi-final as Declan O’Brien and David Cassidy netted second-half goals to steer Drogheda through to the semi-finals.
This quarter-final replay was in the balance, with only O’Brien’s 50th minute opener separating them – until Cassidy tapped home in the 92nd minute.
Fourth official Paul Tuite’s board had signalled six minutes to be added and the visitors dared to dream.
Then, Ryan Brennan broke through and squared past Ciaran Gallagher to allow Cassidy tuck into the unguarded net.
The Drogs went in front five minutes into part two.
Shane Grimes and Cassidy worked the opening on the right flank. The former’s cross was met by Philip Hand, but after his skewed effort was blocked, O’Brien crashed home from close range.
O’Brien got in behind again soon after but, from close to the byline, the striker’s effort was turned out by Ciaran Gallagher.
As Harps sought a way back into the tie, surely buoyed by the news of a home draw for the winners, Thomas McMonagle stung the palms of Michael Schlingermann with a free, that was only gathered at the second attempt.
Harps were rocked, though, when McNulty was shown a second yellow card twenty minutes from the end.
David Cassidy had fouled Michael Funston in the centre circle.
McNulty, reacted, rather needlessly, and, after dashing to where he needn’t have, a push to the Drogheda player’s back resulted in linesman Ciaran Delaney reporting the defender to referee Derek Tomney, who showed yellow, then red.
Drogheda could have sewn up the tie, but Peter Hynes opted for the jugular when one-on-one with Gallagher, the Harps netminder left with a routine save.
McMonagle went close again but, two minutes from the end, he powered wide from distance.
Harps showed just one change to their line-up from that which had been denied a semi-final berth three days earlier as Mick Daly’s 85th minute goal on Friday earned the Drogs stalemate in Ballybofey.
Mark Forker was reinstated to the Harps midfield in place of Ciaran Coll, suspended following his red card in the first instalment.
Harps seemed a little more adventurous this time around with Pat McCann stationed just behind McHugh in a 4-4-1-1 formation.
At one stage midway through the first half, manager Peter Hutton could be heard instructing his players: ‘You’re sitting too deep’.
Their fist purposeful foray came around this time with Mark Forker’s teasing low cross just too low to Michael Schlingermann after McHugh did superbly to work the ball out to Shaun McGowan on the edge of the box.
Then, McCann did well to get a cross away but Tommy Bonner’s half volley sailed over the crossbar.
Friday’s hero, Daly, missed out for the hosts through a suspension, as did Gavin Brennan, with Hand and Peter Hynes the men to profit.
Hynes had a sight of the target, but a stabbed effort in the 18th minute failed to trouble Gallagher, after an earlier chip by David Cassidy had a similar result.
O’Brien was put through by Brennan, but shot wide, before Brennan wrangled away from Funston before a teasing cross was met by O’Brien, whose near-post header was just off target.
Late in the half, Harps came close themselves with Keith Cowan’s powerful header well turned over by Schlingermann, before O’Brien headed wide just when the Drogs were beginning to turn the screw.
They didn’t waste time after the restart to make it count – O’Brien’s strike followed by the late clincher from Cassidy to secure a mouth-watering Louth derby against Dundalk in the semi-finals.
Drogheda United: Michael Schlingermann; Shane Grimes, Derek Prendergast, Paul O’Connor, Alan McNally; Ryan Brennan, Alan Byrne, David Cassidy, Philip Hand; Declan O’Brien, Peter Hynes. Subs: Eric Foley for Byrne (74 mins), Graham Rusk for Hynes (84 mins).
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher; Damien McNulty, Keith Cowan, Josh Mailey, Thomas McMonagle; Mark Forker, Thomas Bonnar, Shaun McGowan, Michael Funston; Pat McCann; Kevin McHugh. Subs: Paul McVeigh for Forker (72 mins), Gary Merritt for Funston (84 mins), Jordan Duffy for Bonnar (90 mins).
Referee: Derek Tomney (Dublin).