Finn Harps 1
Waterford FC 0
Finn Harps have secured their Premier Division safety on their own terms after a battling win over Waterford in Ballybofey tonight.
With Shelbourne going down to champions Shamrock Rovers, Harps’ 1-0 victory in their final league outing of the campaign was enough to spare them the relegation/promotion play-off spot.
Adam Foley was the hero on this night with his first-half effort proving the difference between the sides in a contest that was littered with chances throughout.
The home side had opened in bright fashion as Stephen Folan and Barry McNamee both gained early sights on goal. Waterford forged their first opportunity on nine minutes but Alistair Coote’s strike from distance went well wide.
On 12 minutes, Foley was teed up by the busy McNamee but his effort was stopped by Brian Murphy. Up the other end Matthew Smith got in on goal and but for the quickness of Mark Anthony McGinley off his line, the Waterford attacker would surely have netted.
With McNamee continuing to pull the strings, Dave Webster’s effort from the wide right was comfortably beaten away by Murphy.
But on 28 minutes, the breakthrough the hosts deserved arrived courtesy of Foley. With Murphy putting his full back under pressure with a throw-out to the wing, Webster hunted him down and forced possession back Harps’ way.
He quickly sent big Alexender Kogler on his way and with McNamee then taking ownership of matters, his thread across goal was bundled home by the determined Foley at the back stick.
Both sides had good early chances following the resumption. McNamee delightfully jinked through the visiting defence and it took a fine Murphy save to push his curling effort behind for a corner.
Waterford’s Niall O’Keeffe was then desperately unlucky to see his clip go just the wrong side of the foot of McGinley’s left hand post.
Entering the last half hour and Ollie Horgan’s side continued to look comfortable. However a lapse at the back did let in Smith. He got his shot away and while it was parried by McGinley the Waterford man seemed like he’d been upended.
Still, Paul McLaughlin was right beside the play and those appeals were waved away. Harps had a number of excellent chances to make sure of things like when Webster nodded onto the crossbar.
Folan almost turned the ball into his own net under pressure but McGinley spared him those blushes. Seven minutes from the end, a direct ball into the Waterford area was headed back across goal by Webster but somehow McNamee was unable to turn the ball home from close range.
Kosovar Sadiki did head in Ryan Connolly’s late free but that was stroked out for a push by the Harps man. Deep into added time Waterford replacement Kurtis Byrne somehow spurned a gilt edged chance to square matters when he dragged an effort onto the post. But to their credit, Harps survived on what was a famous night by the Finn.
Finn Harps: Mark Anthony McGinley; Shane McEleney, Kosovar Sadiki, Stephen Folan; Dave Webster, Ryan Connolly, Gareth Harkin, Barry McNamee, Mark Russell; Adam Foley, Alexander Kogler ( Raff Cretaro 56).
Subs: Raf Cretaro for Kogler (56 mins), Mark Coyle for McEleney (73 mins), Sam Todd for Foley (80 mins),
Waterford FC: Brian Murphy; Darragh Power, Jake Davidson, Robbie Weir, Tyreke Wilson; Robbie McCourt, Niall O’Keeffe, Ali Coote; John Martin, Daryl Murphy, Matty Smith.
Subs: Shane Griffin for Power (60 mins), Will Fitzgerald for O’Keeffe (70 mins), Kurtis Byrne for Coote (90 mins).
Referee: Paul McLaughlin.