FINN HARPS 0 LONGFORD TOWN 0
after extra time, Longford Town win 4-3 on penalties
BY CHRIS MCNULTY AT FINN PARK
THERE’LL be no magical Cup run this year, but Finn Harps’ FAI Cup campaign was still full of drama.
Ollie Horgan’s men bowed out after a nerve-jangling penalty shoot-out loss to Longford Town.
Having had the better of the chances throughout, Harps made their exit after Longford ‘keeper Paul Hunt saved from Gareth Harkin and Josh Mailey struck the post.
Although Ciaran Gallagher beat out Rhys Gorman’s penalty, it was the Midlanders who held their nerve.
Kevin McHugh came close to giving Harps the lead in the third minute of extra time, but the captain’s blistering shot cannoned off the post with Hunt beaten.
Hunt denied Matthew Crossan at full stretch soon after, the ‘keeper reaching out to his right to turn away the Killea man’s free kick.
The closest Harps came to winning it was when Garbhan Friel’s header hit the inside of the post and Conor Powell averted the danger.
Stephen Rice’s goal late in the first half on Friday night teed up the replay after Gareth Harkin gave ten-man Harps the shock lead. Damien McNulty’s sending off meant that he was suspended with Josh Mailey coming in to fill the void.
Horgan made two further changes with Crossan and Wilfried Tagbo replacing Packie Mailey and McHugh.
Rice and Pat Sullivan were absent as Longford showed five changes from Friday’s clash at the City Calling Stadium.
Raymond Foy almost caught Hunt out in the 13th minute, but a wind-assisted effort clipped the top of the crossbar while Harkin was just over with a teasing free soon after.
After Michael Funston’s long-range effort crept just past the post, the visitors looked to have taken the lead when Lorcan Shannon finished from close range, but, having taken control with his hand, the strike was chalked off.
Shannon had been denied seconds earlier by Gallagher and Keith Cowan had to slice clear.
Cowan and Crossan went close for the home side, but hearts were in mouths just before the break when Shannon arched up and over from ten yards.
Tagbo might’ve done better when, two minutes into the second half, the Frenchman was played in by Crossan, but his final shot lacked conviction and Paul Hunt saved.
Tony McNamee, whose promise continues to grow, fashioned an opening for himself just after the hour mark, but the Ramelton glided a left-footed attempt beyond the far post.
Tagbo could have won it two minutes from the end, but he was denied by William Tyrell’s block after substitute McHugh created the chance, while Hunt raced out to bravely save at the feet of Foy.
FINN HARPS: Ciaran Gallagher; Keith Cowan, Thomas McMonagle, Matthew Crossan; Josh Mailey, Michael Funston, Raymond Foy, Tony McNamee, Gareth Harkin, Ciaran Coll; Wilfried Tagbo. Subs: Kevin McHugh for Funston (75 mins), Garbhan Friel for Foy (102 mins), Packie Mailey for Cowan (109 mins).
LONGFORD TOWN: Paul Hunt; James Mulhall, Rhys Gorman, William Tyrell, Conor Powell; Kaleem Simon, Aymen Ben Mohamed, Kevin O’Connor, Mark Salmon, Lorcan Shannon; Gary Shaw. Subs: David O’Sullivan for Simon (60 mins), Don Cowan for Mohamed (65 mins), Martin Deady for Cowan (90 mins).
REFEREE: Neil Doyle (Dublin)