BY CHRIS MCNULTY
THE pained expression etched across Kevin McHugh’s face told the story of how a missed penalty in the 72nd minute was haunting him as Finn Harps were held to a two-all draw against Wexford Youths.
McHugh stepped up after Gareth Harkin’s shot was deemed to have come off a Wexford hand. The Harps captain, nor the home crowd, watched in disbelief as the penalty headed skyward, past the wrong side of Graham Doyle’s target.
“Games change in moments and the game was dead and buried with that penalty,” McHugh said.
“I have to hold my hands up; it was a poor penalty and gave them an incentive to get back into it. I thought we’d done enough in the second half to warrant getting three points.”
McHugh netted the 173rd goal of his Harps career early in the second half to fire Harps ahead.
He said: “It was a lovely ball in from Gareth and I managed to stay onside and put it in.”
The experienced striker had an injury ravaged time at the start of the season as a hamstring injury kept him on the sidelines for a spell. The Killea native was back among the goals again, but it was his penalty that he’ll remember.
He said: “We’ll be looking back at the bloody penalty.
“To be honest, it was two yards outside the box, so I don’t think it should have been a penalty, but at the same time I have to stick it in the net and I didn’t. It gave them momentum going forward.
McHugh felt that Harps ‘dropped back too early’ after going ahead, but overall he feels considerable improvement in the ranks this season – even if their tag of the division’s draw specialists (Friday’s was their 10th of the season) will haunt them.
McHugh said: “We have to learn from silly things that we’ve done this year. We’ve had far too many draws. We’ve went for games and been unlucky. It does bode well for the future because we have a better set up. We have more about us than we had last year.”